China Hosts Libyan Rebel Envoy, Seeking Mediator’s Role

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 6:30 am (UTC-5)
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China said Tuesday it is hoping to help find a political solution to the conflict in Libya during talks this week with a representative of the Libyan rebel movement.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the talks on Tuesday and Wednesday with rebel envoy Mahmoud Jibril reflect China's desire to maintain contact with all parties to the conflict. Jibril is the chairman of the executive board of Libya's National Transitional Council, which Hong described as an important force in Libyan politics.

The Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper described Jibril's visit as part of an effort by the rebels to strike up relations with key global players. It quoted analysts saying Chinese officials have shown a growing interest in helping to end the fighting between the rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Mr. Gadhafi's foreign minister, Abdelati Obeidi, visited Beijing for three days of talks earlier this month. A Chinese diplomat has also met in Qatar with the leader of the rebel movement, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

The analysts quoted by Global Times say China is not likely to take sides in the conflict, but will seek to resolve the conflict by talking to both the government and the rebels. They also say Beijing is anxious to ensure the protection of Chinese interests in Libya.

China is a major purchaser of Libyan oil and has significant investments in its energy sector. Beijing evacuated more than 30,000 of its nationals from the country in the early days of the conflict.