JERUSALEM (Jan. 8)
China has extended an invitation to Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy to visit, furthering the belief that ties between the two countries are imminent.
The latest step follows a series of significant moves in the direction of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
It is widely believed that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens visited China in October, following the Middle East peace conference in Madrid. A photograph of him and Chinese officials, ostensibly in Beijing, appeared in an Israeli newspaper.
Then, an Israeli trade delegation was invited to China and signed various agreements for business and technological accords between the two countries.
Israel and China maintain ties through academia and travel. Israel has an active academic mission in Beijing, which has increasingly taken on the attributes of an unofficial embassy.
The Chinese deputy foreign minister visited Jerusalem last month, and the director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yosef Hadass, had been due to go to Beijing. But he had to postpone his visit, because he is co-chairman of the Israeli team negotiating with Lebanon in Washington.
In Hong Kong, the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review reported Wednesday that Levy would fly to Beijing on Jan. 22 and would spend at least five days in the Chinese capital.
There was no official announcement on Levy’s plans in either capital. But sources in Jerusalem said the foreign minister would like to arrange his itinerary so that he could fly on from China to Moscow, to attend the planned opening there on Jan. 28 of the multilateral talks on Middle East regional issues.