Israel has pledged to further increase arms sales and military cooperation with China in an attempt to win Beijing’s vote against Palestinians’ bid for recognition at the UN, a report says.
Speaking at a news conference in the Israeli Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said that direct contacts between senior military officers of the two sides will increase.
"We want more exchanges among senior officers, then to figure out what could be done to satisfy the needs of both sides," Barak told reporters in Beijing after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie.
China is one of Israel’s main trading partners with annual trade standing at USD 7 billion. The two sides enjoy a wide range of cooperation in fields like science, agriculture and renewable energy, China’s Global Times reported.
But military ties between the two sides have been frosty over the past ten years after US intervention twice scuttled Israeli arms deals with China.
Israel cancelled the sale of advanced Phalcon spy planes to China in 2000 and of spare parts for Israeli-built Harpy drones in 2005 over US pressure urging Tel Aviv to consult with Washington before the conclusion of any sensitive arms sales to China.
According to China media, Beijing has also expressed willingness to further strengthen military cooperation with Israel.
"China values relations with Israel and is ready to expand and strengthen pragmatic exchange and cooperation between the two militaries," China’s Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said.
However, Barak’s trip, which is the first visit of an Israeli defense minister to China in about a decade, was to focus on a wide-range of issues beyond defense ties, his office said in a statement without giving details of the itinerary.
The rare trip came as Tel Aviv is trying to convince the international community not to support Palestinians bid for the United Nations recognition and membership in September.
"The idea of going to the general assembly to try to achieve a unilateral recognition of Palestine is not productive," Barak said, adding that Israel is trying to convince the US, the EU and Russia that it is more productive to resolve such issues through bilateral dialogue, Global Times reported.
The United States says it will veto the application at the UN Security Council. The US says it has informed Palestinians that the only way they see a UN membership possible, is through bilateral negotiations with the Israeli regime.