China deepens engagement with Libyan rebels

July 7, 2011 06:42

BEIJING - A Chinese diplomat met with leaders of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) at their base in Benghazi, state media said on Thursday, building deeper relationships with rebels seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The visit by Chen Xiaodong, China's foreign ministry chief for North African affairs, was the second official meeting between China and Libyan opposition leaders in less than a month and comes as rebels advanced on Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Chen told the deputy head of the NTC Ali Essawi that China considered the faction "an important dialogue partner," echoing comments made by senior Chinese officials on rebel diplomatic chief Mahmoud Jibril's visit to Beijing in late June.

Chen is the most senior official yet to hold talks with the NTC in Libya, although a Chinese diplomat based in Egypt visited the Libyan rebels in Benghazi for the first time in early June.

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