Abbas and Netanyahu on separate China visits

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (06/05/13) Mr Abbas said the visits would allow China to listen to both sides

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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in China for separate talks with top officials.

Mr Abbas, who met President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, said he would explain obstacles to talks with Israel.

Mr Netanyahu, who is visiting Shanghai before flying to Beijing later this week, was due to sign trade deals and discuss the issue of Iran.

The two men are not expected to meet while they are in China.

China would assist if they wanted to, a foreign ministry official said, but the two leaders were not expected to be in the same city at the same time.

Mr Abbas, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday, signed agreements on technical co-operation and cultural exchange with Mr Xi on Monday. The Palestinian leader was also expected to meet Premier Li Keqiang during his visit.

Speaking to Xinhua news agency ahead of the visit, he said he would update Chinese leaders on "what are the obstacles that block" dialogue with Israel, and would ask Beijing "to use its relationship with Israel to remove the obstacles that obstruct the Palestinian economy".

Xinhua quoted him as saying: "It is very good that Netanyahu will visit China too because it is a good opportunity that the Chinese listen to both of us."

Mr Netanyahu's visit is the first to China by an Israeli leader in six years.

He was expected to meet business delegates in Shanghai before heading to Beijing. Israeli officials say he is expected to sign a number of trade deals.

He is also expected to raise the issue of Iran, which many nations including Israel believe is trying to build nuclear weapons - something Iran denies.

Beijing is one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil, and has opposed unilateral Western sanctions on Tehran.

"China and Israel have both much to gain from enhanced co-operation, and that's our goal," Mr Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told AFP news agency.

Mr Netanyahu's departure was delayed by a security cabinet meeting to discuss developments in Syria, after two Israeli air strikes on sites in Syria over the weekend.

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