Foreign minister tours Israel and Palestine
JERUSALEM: Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met both Palestinian and Israeli prime ministers yesterday.
While talking with Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Li said the peoples of China and Palestine share long-standing friendship and understanding.
Li said China backs the political efforts by the Palestinian leaders towards peace in the Middle East.
Qurei briefed Li about the latest moves in the Middle East peace process.
Li also paid respects beside the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In Jerusalem, Li met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Li said on Sunday that China is ready to expand dialogue with Israel on a broad spectrum of bilateral and international issues and strengthen co-operation in various fields.
In his talks with Shalom, Li said China appreciates the efforts by the Israeli Government to develop relations with China in accordance with the fundamental interests of both sides, which is also conducive to peace and stability in the Middle East region and the world at large.
He said China is ready to expand its co-operation with Israel in trade, agriculture, culture, education, tourism and other fields.
China is making efforts to double its trade volume with Israel from US$2.5 billion last year to US$5 billion in 2008, he added.
He told Shalom that China has listed Israel as one of the tourist destination countries for Chinese citizens. Shalom, also Israel's deputy prime minister, said China is an important co-operative partner.
Israel is eager to strengthen exchanges with China in all fields and deepen understanding and co-operation with the country, Shalom said.
The foreign minister stressed that Israel will firmly stick to its one-China policy.
The two sides have agreed to mutual exemption of visas for diplomatic and service passport holders.
On the Middle East situation, the two sides agreed that all parties concerned should seize the current opportunity to expedite the Middle East peace process
(China Daily 06/21/2005 page2)