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China to help ease Mideast tensions

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Beijing – China said Friday it will “continue to play a constructive role to de-escalate” tensions in the Middle East after Iranian media reported explosions heard near the city of Isfahan and US media quoted officials saying Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes on its arch-rival.

“China opposes any actions that further escalate tensions and will continue to play a constructive role to de-escalate the situation,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said.

Air defence systems over several Iranian cities were activated on Friday, state media reported, after the country’s official broadcaster said explosions were heard near Isfahan.

In Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called Friday for an “absolute de-escalation” following reports that Israel carried out a strike on Iran, saying G7 counterparts would discuss it at talks in Capri.

“We invite everyone to be cautious to avoid an escalation,” he told RAI news from the Italian island, where Rome is hosting a meeting between foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations.

The G7, which includes the UK, US, France, Germany, Japan and Canada, wants an “absolute de-escalation” in the Middle East, he said.

“We are monitoring the situation closely. We will address the situation with the foreign ministers at the G7 session this morning in Italy,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on X.

Iran’s state media reported explosions in the central province of Isfahan Friday, as US media quoted officials saying Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes on its arch-rival.

Israel had previously warned it would hit back after Iran fired missiles and drones at Israel almost a week ago, in retaliation for a deadly strike on Iran’s embassy in Syria which Tehran blamed on its foe.

Fears of a major regional spillover from the Gaza war have since soared.

Israel had previously warned it would hit back after Iran fired hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel almost a week ago, in retaliation for a deadly strike — which Tehran blamed on its foe — that levelled Iran’s consular annex at its embassy in Syria.

Fears of a major regional spillover from the Gaza war have since soared.

China is a close partner of Iran, its largest trade partner, and a top buyer of its sanctioned oil.

The United States has repeatedly made public appeals for China to use its influence over Tehran to manage tensions in the region, which are currently turbocharged over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi held talks with his Iranian counterpart this week, with state media reporting that Tehran had said it was “willing to exercise restraint” after its first-ever attack on Israel’s territory.

China, historically sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, has been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

G7 ministers including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been on Capri since Wednesday and are due to wrap up on Friday lunchtime.

The Middle East crisis was first on the agenda on Thursday morning.

Friday’s sessions were focused on rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific, but Tajani confirmed the Iran situation would be “discussed.”

AFP

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