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China Plays Mediator to Libya's Fighting Factions

A Libyan rebel fighter uses a walkie talkie at their position in Misrata's western front line, some 25 km (16 miles) from the city center June 9, 2011

Libyan opposition forces trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from his four decades in power are heading to China to seek support. Foreign Ministry official Chen Xiaodong announced the visit at a briefing Thursday - just as an envoy from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wrapped up a two-day visit during which he urged China to help secure a ceasefire. China also says Libya's future should be freely determined by its own people.

The envoy from the Libyan leader traveled to China, earlier this week, seeking help in securing a ceasefire between his battered government and the rebels. On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Chen Xiaodong revealed a delegation from the Libyan opposition would also soon be in Beijing to seek Chinese backing.

Chen said Beijing is "ready to receive" the Libyan rebels in the near future - though he did not specify a date.

Chinese diplomats and rebel leaders met recently in Qatar and in the rebel's main base in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Analysts speculate China is seeking a larger role as peacemaker because it secures much of its oil from the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at regular media briefing Thursday China hopes the Libyan factions involved in armed conflict immediately begin a ceasefire to prevent further humanitarian disaster.

Hong says political means such as discussion and dialogue should be used to end the crisis.

He says Beijing wants to see relevant parties in Libya quickly resolve the crisis through political means.

Hong also re-asserted China's opposition to military actions that exceed a U.N. Security Council resolution authorization. Chinese authorities have said that NATO air strikes on government positions in Libya go beyond the U.N. mandate.

During his two-day visit to Beijing, Gadhafi's envoy Abdelati Obeidi said his government is ready to agree to a total ceasefire and hoped China will help broker such a temporary peace settlement.

Chen Xiaodong, who Chinese state media identified as director general of the Foreign Ministry’s West Asian and North African Affairs Department, was quoted as saying China has stepped up its push to persuade the two sides in the conflict to seek "an amicable settlement through dialogue".

He also said China is mulling additional humanitarian aid for Libya.

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