RAMALLAH, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah called on China to encourage Chinese companies to join a bid for petroleum exploration in the Palestinian territories.
Al-Hamdallah said in a news statement after his meeting in the West Bank with the Chinese special envoy to the Middle East Wu Sike that his government has recently approved a bid to invite international companies to explore for oil in the West Bank. He added that another bid is being prepared for exploring offshore gas in Gaza. "We hope the Chinese government would urge Chinese companies to help enhance investment," read the statement.
During the meeting, Al-Hamdallah discussed with the Chinese diplomat the Palestinian economic conditions, pointing out that Israel controls 62 per cent of the West Bank, making it impossible for the Palestinians to use their natural resources worth billions of U.S dollars.
The Palestinian government announced last week that petroleum exploration in the West Bank will definitely make a boom in the Palestinian economy, affirming that there around 30 million petrol barrels in the area.
Politically, the Palestinian prime minister told Wu Sike that the Palestinian side is sticking to the choice of peace talks with Israel in order to have an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The U.S.-mediated peace negotiations resumed last July and are set to end in April after a three-year halt.
According to the statement, Wu Sike reiterated China's support to the Palestinians' rights to have a sovereign state. He also said that China is keen to assist Palestine in all fields, including training the government personnel and promoting infrastructure and solar energy projects.
Wu Sike arrived in Ramallah on Tuesday in an official visit in which he is supposed to meet the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and government officials.