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China, Libyan Rebels Hold More Talks

Mahmoud Jibril, representative for foreign affairs with the Libyan Transitional National Council, a political group opposed to the regime of Moammar Gadhafi (file photo)

Libya National Transitional Council Chairman Mahmud Jibril arrived in Beijing at noon Tuesday for two days of talks with anxious Chinese leaders keen to see an end to the bloody conflict.

Beijing has important economic interests in the North African state, including much needed oil that helps keep China's economic boom going.

Jibril is expected to meet with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, although the foreign ministry released few details ahead of their talks.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists Tuesday that China views the National Transitional Council as an important political force in domestic Libyan politics.

Hong says China wishes to maintain contact with all parties and wants to help look for a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

He says China supports the United Nations’ diplomatic efforts to negotiate with both sides directly, so as to convince them to act in the best interests of the Libyan people.

Chinese analysts quoted in official state media suggest that the country is keen to establish a bigger diplomatic role in a post-conflict Libya.

Beijing has been involved in several rounds of shuttle diplomacy with Libya's fighting factions and has met twice with NTC head Mustapha Abdul-Jalil.

Earlier this month Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati al-Obeidi spent three days in Beijing discussing ways to resolve the crisis.

China, which claims a non-interference foreign policy, insists a ceasefire should be the top priority for both sides.

Beijing has oil, telecom and rail interests in Libya and sent a warship to help evacuate more than 30,000 Chinese workers when fighting started in mid-February.

China abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote for international military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, and this effectively gave the resolution the go-ahead.

Beijing has since criticized the Nato-led air strikes.