China fears regional conflict as Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran

By REUTERS
January 4, 2016 12:07

China said on Monday it was concerned about the prospect of an intensification of conflict in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with rival regional power Iran.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday, responding to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the ruling Al Saudi family.

Tension between revolutionary, mainly Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia's conservative Sunni monarchy has run high for years as they backed opposing forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

"Like the international community, China is highly concerned about the developments and expresses concern that the relevant event may intensify conflict in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing, referring to the escalation in tension.

The safety and dignity of diplomatic personnel should be guaranteed, Hua said.

"We hope the relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint, properly resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability," she said.


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