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Russia says it is coordinating Middle East policy with China

Russia said on Thursday (Oct 19) it was coordinating its policy in the Middle East and North Africa with China, an increasingly close ally that President Vladimir Putin visited this week.

Russia said Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov had held talks in Doha with Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy for the Middle East, in which they exchanged views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group that runs the Gaza Strip.

“There was confirmation of the constant focus of Moscow and Beijing on close coordination of efforts in the interests of a political settlement of this and other crises in the Middle East and North Africa region …” a foreign ministry statement said.

Russia sees itself as a potential broker between Israel and Hamas, which triggered the current crisis with a surprise assault on Oct 7 that killed 1,400 people. Israel has responded with aerial bombardments that Gaza authorities say have killed more than 3,500 Palestinians and left more than 12,000 wounded.

Moscow has tried to put some of the blame for the crisis on the United States, the most powerful ally of Ukraine, against which Russia began an all-out invasion last year.

A Russian-drafted UN Security Council resolution that called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, along with the release of hostages, humanitarian access, and the safe evacuation of civilians in need failed to pass on Monday.

The text condemned violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism, but did not single out Hamas.

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