BEIJING, May 3 (UPI) -- China offered Friday to mediate any talks between the prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority while both men are in the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas will be in Beijing next week on separate visits at the invitation of the Chinese government, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Friday.
"If the leaders of Palestine and Israel have the will to meet in China, China is willing to offer necessary assistance," said Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesman.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Shanghai Monday morning and arrive in Beijing Tuesday, Haaretz reported. Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Beijing Sunday and depart Tuesday.
A senior Israeli official involved in preparing Netanyahu's trip said the overlap of the visits was entirely coincidental. He said it was unlikely the men would meet because of the deep distrust they have for each other. Abbas has said concessions from Israel are necessary before he will agree to meet with Netanyahu.
Abbas said Friday he will update China on the status of negotiations with Israel and ask for help to persuade Israel "to remove the obstacles that obstruct the Palestinian economy," Xinhua reported.