Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping calls for unity in Iraq, confers with Ban Ki-moon on Middle East, Ebola, Ukraine

Move comes after China backs UN resolution on extremists in Middle East

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 6:24am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 9:11am

President Xi Jinping yesterday called on Iraq’s politicians to unite to stabilise the country, a day after China made a rare move to fully back a UN resolution against extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.

Xi issued the call during a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Nanjing, Jiangsu, before they attended the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympic Games.

Ban and Xi discussed various issues, including the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

“The tension in the Middle East continues to escalate and there has been a resurgence in ethnic and religious conflicts. We are very worried about the situation in this region,” Xi was quoted by Xinhua as telling Ban.

Xi described the political developments in Iraq as “both expected and unexpected”.

The way for Iraq to escape its present troubles was through fostering internal unity and avoiding more turmoil from outside forces, he said.

On Friday, China backed a UN resolution that expressed the international body’s “gravest concern” over the control of territory in Iraq and Syria by al-Qaeda-linked groups including the Islamic State and the al-Nusrah Front (ANF). The resolution also contained a ban on arms sales to these groups.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said China’s unreserved support for the UN resolution was rare and linked to Beijing’s fears that the extremist groups might further stoke violence in Xinjiang.

“China decided to fully support the UN’s resolution because it realises that the [Islamic State] and the ANF are the most extreme and brutal terrorist groups in the Middle East … but it was also because of domestic security concerns in China, especially Xinjiang,” Shi said.

“All those extreme Islamic terrorist groups use religious fanaticism to recruit members. It’s necessary for China to work with other global powers to curb Islamic State and the AFN.”

Xi also told Ban that the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine showed that “it is important and imperative to properly address the Ukraine crisis” through a political solution.