U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer disclosed on Monday that a congressional delegation during its visit to China had appealed to Beijing to use its influence with Iran in order to quell the growing tensions in the Middle East, specifically the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Urging China to use influence on Iran
During a briefing with reporters, Schumer revealed, “A group of us made the request that China use its influence on Iran to prevent the escalation of this conflict.” He further emphasized that China possesses various means of influencing Iran and expressed hope that they would do everything within their power to prevent Iran from exacerbating the ongoing situation, both directly and through its association with Hezbollah.
In response to the request, U.S. officials at the briefing conveyed that the Chinese government had committed to delivering the message to Iranian authorities.
Schumer, accompanied by five other U.S. senators representing both the Republican and Democratic parties, had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the day, along with other high-level meetings. The meeting with President Xi exceeded initial expectations, lasting approximately 80 minutes.
China expresses concerns
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, expressed China’s concerns over civilian casualties and condemned actions that harm civilians during a regular press conference on Monday. She articulated China’s stance against any moves that escalate the conflict and destabilize the region, while expressing hope for a swift return to peace and cessation of hostilities.
When questioned about China’s communication with Iran, Mao reiterated their call for all relevant parties to immediately halt the fighting, protect civilians, and avoid further deterioration of the situation.
Notably, in both the official English transcript and a statement from the ministry on Sunday, there was no mention of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite its control of the Gaza Strip and its designation as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the European Union.
Given the unprecedented nature of Hamas’ attack and Iran’s historical support for the group and its cause, concerns have arisen regarding Iran’s potential involvement. While a Hamas spokesman claimed direct backing from Iran, a report in The Wall Street Journal suggested Iranian security officials’ involvement in planning and approving the attack. However, three U.S. officials informed NBC News that they were unable to corroborate the details presented in The Wall Street Journal’s account.