Iran signals restraint in conflict with Israel, seeks ceasefire in Gaza

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16th April 2024 – (Tehran)  Iran has expressed a commitment to restraint and has stated it does not seek further escalation in its conflict with Israel. This was communicated by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during a phone conversation on Monday, as per a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The dialogue between the two ministers comes after a series of drone and missile attacks launched by Iran against Israel last Saturday, which Tehran described as a defensive response to earlier aggressions. According to the Chinese readout, Amir-Abdollahian emphasised the precarious nature of the current situation in the Middle East and reiterated Iran’s support for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. He also appreciated China’s efforts to foster peace and encourage cooperation among the regional nations.

In response, Wang Yi condemned the recent attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, labeling it a severe breach of international norms. He acknowledged Iran’s defensive stance and its broader commitment to maintaining peace with its neighbours.

Furthering diplomatic engagements, Wang also spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, pledging collaborative efforts to prevent any escalation of conflict in the Middle East. Both affirmed the need for a swift and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza and the initiation of steps towards a two-state solution.

Wang’s discussions reflect China’s active role in Middle Eastern politics, following its mediation last year in brokering a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. His calls underscore the urgency of restoring stability in the region and the broader international community’s interest in resolving the conflict.

The Chinese diplomat later met with Irit Ben-Abba, Israel’s ambassador, and underscored the need for maximum restraint from all parties involved. Despite these diplomatic moves, the Israeli deputy chief of mission, Yuval Waks, expressed dissatisfaction with China’s stance, expecting a stronger condemnation of Iran’s actions and a clearer recognition of Israel’s right to self-defence.