|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Historic Chinese-Israeli summit may have far-reaching effects
Jiang's meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders also could have an effect on the military balance of power in Asia, U.S.-Israeli relations and the Middle East peace process.
The Chinese president is expected to discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak Beijing's purchase of advanced airborne radar systems similar to U.S. military planes. The Pentagon objects to the sale of the technology, saying it would upset the military balance of power in Asia, specifically between China and Taiwan.
In addition, Beijing is billing Jiang's visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as a chance to play a part in regional peacemaking. It believes its blossoming ties with Israel and its long-standing friendship with the Palestinians offer ideal credentials to take on the role of peace mediator.
Summit follows Barak-Clinton talks
The summit comes one day after Barak's meeting in Washington with U.S. President Bill Clinton, where the topics included both the Middle East peace process and the sale of high technology radar equipment to China. The four-hour meeting was described by a senior Clinton administration official as a "good, productive, serious discussion."
The administration official said the president feels encouraged. "There is an intensification, a renewed energy in the Palestinian track. He looks forward to building on this momentum as we await Chairman Arafat's arrival next week."
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is scheduled to travel to Washington for talks with Clinton on April 20.
Barak and Clinton also touched on the Israeli-Syrian track of the peace process and Israel's scheduled withdrawal from Lebanon.
The U.S. president raised concerns about the Israeli sale to China of the sophisticated radar-equipped aircraft. The two left the issue unresolved and agreed to discuss it again at a later date.
Israeli Foreign Minister comments
A member of Barak's Cabinet tried to soften the issue Wednesday. "We will not do anything that will shake or harm our relations with the United States," Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy told Israel Radio.
"On the other hand," Levy continued, "we cannot tell the Chinese now ... that a signature is not a signature," he said about the Chinese weapons deal.
Under the 1996 agreement Israel has promised to sell Beijing a Russian-made Ilyushin-76 plane modified with an advanced airborne warning and control system (AWACS).
The United States is concerned that China could use the AWACS against Taiwanese and U.S. fighters in the event of a military conflict and has pressed Israel to scrap the sale.
Levy said he was confident a way could be found to ease U.S. concerns, but killing the sale would only open the door for other countries to sell a similar system to China.
Israel dominates Jiang's Middle East visit
In addition to meeting with Barak and cabinet ministers, the Chinese leader will spend five-days touring sites ranging from Israel's parliament, to a collective farm near the Dead Sea.
Although Israel dominates Jiang's itinerary, he is scheduled to visit the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Bethlehem.
China has long been a supporter of a Palestinian homeland. It was one of the first countries to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization when it was founded in 1964.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Barak, Clinton voice optimism over talks with Palestinians
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People's Republic of China
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.