Beijing: Signalling at an obvious shift in its policy, China, which had till recently called for a ceasefire in the Libyan conflict, has for the first time officially established contact with the Libyan opposition.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said that it has contacted Libya's opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

"Chinese ambassador to Qatar Zhang Zhiliang has recently met with Chairman of the Libya's National Transitional Council (CNT) (Mustafa Abdel) Jalil and the two sides exchanged views on the Libyan situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a brief statement.

So far, China has been calling for all parties to reach a ceasefire in Libya and resolve the crisis through political means and had stayed away from any public contact with the rebel leaders.

While Muammar Gaddafi called for ceasefire, the opposition rejected it demanding that he should step down immediately.
Even on May 31, the Chinese Foreign Ministry advocated the ceasefire line with the spokesperson Jiang Yu stating that both sides should end the conflict and seek a solution.

"We expect the parties in Libya to give priority to the interests of the country and people, take into full account the mediation proposals by the international community and ease tensions at an early time," Jiang had said.

The confirmation of China's official contact with the Libyan opposition leaders came after failure of the mediation efforts led by South African President Jacob Zuma following Gaddafi's refusal to relinquish power.

China and Russia, both veto wielding members of the UN  ecurity Council had abstained from voting along with India on the EU resolution to establish a no-fly zone of Libya to neutralise Gaddafi's forces.

(Agencies)