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Arafat to Visit Beijing - 2001-08-22


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is due to arrive in Beijing Thursday for talks on the rising tide of unrest and violence in the Middle East.

China's Foreign Ministry says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will brief Chinese leaders on the Middle East peace process, but gave few details. A Chinese source says Mr. Arafat will speak with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other top officials.

Mr. Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres this week indicated their willingness to attend German-brokered talked to end 11 months of violence. Some 700 people, mostly Palestinians, have died since last September.

China has not been a key player in the Middle East, but holds considerable power as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. China did back a Palestinian proposal to send international monitors to Israeli-occupied territories.

China has decades-long ties with the Palestinians, but is also interested in upgrading its military with advanced technology from Israel.