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Palestinian envoy to brief China about Gaza situation, Abbas' request for UN nonmember status

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sent an envoy to Beijing to brief Chinese officials about the fiercest fighting in years between Israel and Hamas militants. It's another sign of China's growing influence in the Middle East.

A cease-fire agreement took effect Wednesday night after eight days of airstrikes and artillery attacks by Israel and rocket attacks by Palestinian militants killed 161 Palestinians and five Israelis.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday that Bassam al-Salhi carried a message from Abbas to Chinese officials "to intervene in stopping the Israeli aggression on Gaza immediately, given their weight on the international level."

Bassam al-Salhi arrived Thursday in Beijing for a three-day visit. He will discuss the situation in Gaza, Sino-Palestinian relations and the Palestinian Authority's request for non-observer status at the U.N.