Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Israeli, Chinese Defense Chiefs Meet in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM - China's chief of staff Gen. Chen Bingde for the first time met his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Benny Gantz, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
"The defense minister and the Chinese chief of staff discussed the situation in the region, relations with the Palestinian Authority and the situation in Pakistan and Iran, as well as the fight against global terrorism," the statement said.
During his trip Chen will "meet senior security officials and attend strategic and security briefings, visit the IDF Urban Warfare Training Centre, and observe a display of IDF forces training," an Israeli military spokesman said earlier.
Israeli army radio has described the visit as "historic."
The Israeli military declined to say how long Chen would be in the country.
In June, Barak made a rare visit to Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie.
Defense ties had been frosty after U.S. intervention twice scuttled Israeli arms deals with China: the sale of advanced Phalcon spy planes in 2000 and of spare parts for Israeli-built Harpy drones five years later.
Chen's visit comes as Israel seeks to convince the international community to vote against a bid by the Palestinians for recognition of a state at the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Israel has in the past also sought tougher measures from Beijing, a key U.N. Security Council member, against Iran's controversial nuclear program.

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