Israeli Trade Leader in China Predicts Ties Soon Established

The leader of Israel’s first official trade delegation to China predicted Saturday from Beijing that diplomatic relations between the two countries would be established within a matter of months.

Dan Gillerman, chairman of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, made that forecast to reporters in the Chinese capital after his delegation of 10 leading Israeli businessmen met with the Chinese vice president, Wu Xueqian.

It was the highest-level official meeting ever held between Israelis and Chinese, Gillerman pointed out.

He said he could not confirm reports that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens had made a secret visit to China early this month, just after the Madrid peace conference.

Neither Arens not his aides would comment. But the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot published a half-page photograph of the defense minister Friday, ostensibly in Beijing.

Gillerman said direct economic, travel and communications links would be set up within a short time between Israel and China. As for diplomatic ties. "all signs are that they will be established in the not-too-distant future," he said, adding that "I would think in terms of months rather than years."

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