China Diplomat Meets with Libyan Rebels as Libyan Foreign Minister Visits Beijing

After abstaining from a United Nations Security Council vote in March to authorize military force against Gaddafi’s regime, the Chinese government is now building up relations with rebel forces in a tacit acknowledgment that Gaddafi may soon fall from power. From AFP:

The visit marks the second time in recent days that China, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, has made contact with the opposition.

China said on Friday that its ambassador to Qatar, Zhang Zhiliang, met recently with Libyan opposition leader Mustapha Abdul-Jalil, but did not say where the meeting took place and gave few details on the discussions.

Russia also said on Monday that President Dmitry Medvedev’s envoy Mikhail Margelov would meet Libyan rebel leaders in Benghazi on Tuesday but would not travel to Tripoli.

Meanwhile, the Libyan Foreign Minister is paying a visit to Beijing. From Reuters:

Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi will visit China until Thursday as a “special envoy” for his government, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement on the ministry website (www.mfa.gov.cn) that gave no other details.

Hong said earlier that an Egypt-based Chinese diplomat had visited the Libyan rebel base of Benghazi for talks with the National Transitional Council fighting to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

The disclosures were made days after China said its ambassador in Qatar had met Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the rebel’s de facto political leader, in its first confirmed contact with the insurgents, a diplomatic blow to Muammar Gaddafi.

China’s moves reflect growing recognition that Gaddafi’s days in power appear numbered, and the time left to negotiate an end to fighting could be limited, said Yin Gang, an expert on Arab affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

June 6, 2011 10:32 PM
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