China says US Jerusalem move could cause ‘escalation’ of tensions


China has warned that US President Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could fuel tensions in the region.

“We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing on Wednesday.

“All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region.”

A senior Trump administration official said the president will make the announcement on Wednesday from the White House, upending decades of careful US policy and ignoring dire warnings of a historic misstep that could trigger a surge of violence in the Middle East.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said Trump would order officials to begin planning to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump administration officials have described the risky move as a “recognition of reality” that the city has been used as a base for many Israeli government offices.

US embassies around the world have been warned to step up security measures in preparation for Trump’s announcement, which will come at 1pm in Washington.

On the the eve of his contentious decision on Jerusalem’s status, the president held calls with US allies in the Middle East to discuss the issue.

The White House said Trump talked with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi late on Tuesday, both of whom have warned Trump against moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Sisi urged Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region by taking measures that jeopardise the chances of peace in the Middle East”, the Egyptian leader’s spokesman Bassem Radi said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman warned President Donald Trump that moving the US embassy for Israel to Jerusalem was a “dangerous step” that could rile Muslims worldwide. The move has been widely condemned in the Arab world and internationally.

A Jordanian palace statement quoted King Abdullah as telling the US president that such a decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security in the region” and would obstruct US efforts to resume Arab-Israeli peace talks.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians. East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

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