Chinese Envoy Urges Calm, Restraint between Tehran, Riyadh

Chinese Envoy Urges Calm, Restraint between Tehran, Riyadh

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming called on Tehran and Riyadh to “step up dialogue and consultations” amid a diplomatic foray between the two countries over Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

In separate statements on its website on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry said Zhang Ming visited Saudi Arabia and Iran over the past week and held talks with the countries’ senior officials amid the growing tensions.

While in Saudi, Zhang talked about the situation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and hoped “the relevant parties maintain calm and exercise restraint, step up dialogue and consultations and jointly promote an amelioration of the situation", the ministry said, Reuters reported. 

In Iran, Zhang repeated the message about calm and restraint, adding China hopes for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

Both countries expressed their appreciation for China's role in the region, the statements added.

Earlier Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying had expressed concerns over Tehran-Riyadh diplomatic row and said, “The Chinese side hopes that relevant parties could remain calm, exercise restraint, and properly address their disputes through dialogues and consultations.”

She added, “Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming is now in Saudi Arabia for a visit and he will then travel to Iran. He will have an in-depth exchange of views with both sides on the situation in the region. In Beijing, China has also reached out to relevant countries. We hope that the situation in the Middle East will ease up.”

The Saudi government on January 3 announced that Riyadh was severing its diplomatic relations with Tehran following angry protests in Tehran at the execution of Sheikh Nimr by Riyadh.

Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in Tehran's first response that by cutting diplomatic ties, Riyadh could not cover up "its major mistake of executing Sheikh Nimr".

Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 prisoners, including Sheikh Nimr, drew global condemnation on January 2.

The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available in the kingdom's law.

Sheikh Nimr had been detained in July 2012 on charges of delivering anti-regime speeches and defending political prisoners.

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