China Deepens Engagement With Libyan Rebels

Reuters reports on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s continuing cultivation of links with the Libyan rebel National Transition Council, following a visit by a high-ranking diplomat to their Benghazi headquarters.

The visit by Chen Xiaodong, China’s foreign ministry chief for North African affairs, was the second official meeting between China and Libyan opposition leaders in less than a month and comes as rebels advanced on Gaddafi’s stronghold in Tripoli on Wednesday ….

China, never very close to Gaddafi, also hosted Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi in early June. But Beijing’s courting of the rebels has marked something of a practical policy adjustment for China, which generally avoids entangling itself in nations’ domestic affairs ….

China was among the emerging powers that abstained in March when the United Nations Security Council authorized NATO-led air strikes to stop Gaddafi’s forces from threatening civilians. China could have used its veto power as a permanent member.

But it also condemned the strikes, and has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and political compromise.

This contact follows visits to Beijing by Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the NTC, in June, and by Gaddafi’s foreign minister the month before.

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