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Monday, January 11, 2016, 12:41

China calls for calm between Saudi, Iran

By Agencies

China calls for calm between Saudi, Iran
Vice-foreign minister of China Zhang Ming delivers a speech during the inauguration ceremony of the Consulate General of People's Republic of China on Dec 30, 2014 in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Ira q. (AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED)

BEIJING - A Chinese envoy who visited Saudi Arabia and Iran over the past week has called for both countries to exercise calm and restraint amid an on-going feud between the two countries.

In separate statements on its website on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry said Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Ming met senior Saudi and Iranian officials on his trip.

Tensions between the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim Iran have escalated since Saudi authorities executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan 2, triggering outrage among Shi'ites across the Middle East.

In response, Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad, prompting Riyadh to sever relations. Tehran then cut all commercial ties with Riyadh, and banned pilgrims from travelling to Mecca.

Other Arab countries have recalled envoys to Iran and the United Arab Emirates downgraded relations in solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

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

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.

China has recently hosted both Syria's foreign minister and opposition officials. 

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