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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
China slams Israel over UN deaths
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (file photo)
The Chinese foreign minister called for restraint in the Middle East
China has condemned an Israeli attack in south Lebanon which killed four United Nations observers, including a Chinese national.

"We are deeply shocked by this incident and strongly condemn it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

Israel's ambassador to Beijing was summoned and authorities asked for an investigation and an apology, Mr Liu said in a statement.

Observer Du Zhaoyu died when an Israeli bomb hit a UN observation post.

Three other UN observers - from Austria, Canada and Finland - were also killed in the incident.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked" at the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the post. Israel has expressed "deep regret".

Mr Liu called for an immediate ceasefire to the two-week conflict in the region in his statement, which was carried on the ministry's web site.

"We urge all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire and quickly return to the path of negotiation," he said.

He also urged that all sides, "especially Israel, take all measures to ensure the safety of UN peacekeepers".

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who is currently in Malaysia attending a regional security forum, said he was saddened by the incident and urged increased efforts to end the conflict in the Middle East.

"We should try harder to call on the parties to be restrained and to be calm and restore the peace process of the Middle East immediately," Mr Li said.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has been operational in the border area since 1978 and is currently 2,000 strong.

Mr Du was one of a group of some 180 Chinese military peacekeepers sent to Lebanon as part of the UN mission earlier this year, Xinhua news agency said.

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