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China says US 'failure' to implement Gaza ceasefire to blame for Middle East tensions

Beijing blames Washington for spiralling death toll in Gaza and calls air strikes in Syria and Iraq a 'grave violation of sovereignty'
Zhang Jun, China's ambassador to the United Nations (X/Chinese Mission to UN)

China has accused the United States of stoking already high tensions in the Middle East due to its "failure to implement a ceasefire" in Gaza and its retaliatory air strikes on Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.

In a strongly worded speech at the UN Security Council on Monday, Zhang Jun, China's UN ambassador, criticised the US for defying appeals from its Arab allies, and much of the international community, in backing a permanent ceasefire.

"China has repeatedly emphasised that an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is a critical overriding prerequisite for everything else and a top priority for international diplomatic efforts," Jun said. 

"All parties should heed the strong call and the overwhelming consensus of the international community and support the Security Council in taking strong actions to promote an immediate ceasefire," he added.

The US has become increasingly isolated in the international community for using its veto at the UN Security Council to block ceasefire efforts.

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Instead of a permanent ceasefire, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated on Sunday that Washington was seeking "a sustained pause in hostilities" to get the remaining Israeli captives out of Gaza and funnel more humanitarian aid into the strip. 

Israel's devastating bombing campaign on Gaza, now in its fifth month, has killed at least 27,500 and displaced more than 1.9 million Palestinians. 

The incessant bombardment and damage to crucial infrastructure, coupled with the resource strain that has emerged from the mass displacement of Palestinians from northern Gaza, has resulted in large parts of the population struggling to find food and drinkable water.

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The offensive has also seeped out beyond the besieged enclave's borders, where it has morphed into a deadly proxy war between the US and Iran.

Last week the conflict escalated to a new high with three US soldiers killed in a drone strike on a base in Jordan by an Iranian-backed militia.

"As we speak, the situation in the Middle East is on the verge of extreme peril," Jun said.

At least 16 people were killed in US strikes in Iraq, Baghdad said last week. 

The Iraqi government has condemned the "aggression" against its sovereignty, and warned of dire consequences for stability in the region.

"The US purports that it does not seek to create conflicts in the Middle East or anywhere else, but in reality, it does precisely the opposite," said Jun. 

"The US military actions are undoubtedly stoking new turmoil in this region and further intensifying tensions. The US actions will certainly exacerbate the vicious circle of tit-for-tat violence in the Middle East. We have witnessed too many examples and precedents in this regard," he added.

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