Jordan King urges China to play bigger Middle East role

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BEIJING, Oct 30 (Reuters) China's rising influence will bring it a growing diplomatic role in the West Asia, Jordan's King Abdullah said today, encouraging Beijing to help foster peace between Israel and Palestinians.

Israeli and Palestinian officials are preparing for a US-sponsored peace conference later this year, and King Abdullah -- among the regional leaders pressing for concrete progress at the meeting -- said China's status and friendly regional ties could help foster progress.

''China can play an important role in supporting this process both as a world power and respected and trusted Asian neighbour,'' said the King, on a visit to mark 30 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

''As a permanent member of the United Nations (Security Council) and a country that has good relations with all parties in our region, China's role is, I believe, destined to increase in the coming period,'' he said in a speech at Peking University.

King Abdullah's call came during a week that is highlighting China's cautious, but growing, role in the troubled West Asia.

On the same day that the Jordanian leader was due to meet senior Chinese officials, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Beijing to lobby for more stringent sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme.

The West Asia, including Iran, supplies China with about half of its crude imports. That figure will rise to about 70 per cent by 2015, according to the International Energy Agency.

Reuters PD DB1111

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