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Peres Says He’s Pleased with Trip to Far East

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said at the end of his visit to the Far East that he was pleased with the results of his political and economic talks with leaders in China and India.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing last Friday, Peres said Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told him that “China does not intend to sell missiles to the Middle East countries that are at war and that China will be very, very careful not to sell weapons that would endanger the security of our country.”

In his three-hour meeting with Qian on Thursday, Peres received assurances that China “does not sell missiles to Iran and Syria,” according to an Israeli diplomat.

The two ministers also discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including economic cooperation, joint scientific research and cultural exchanges.

Peres also briefed his counterpart on the recently concluded ninth round of Middle East peace talks.

Qian, who recently visited Israel, told Peres he had fond memories of his trip and his reception here. He told Peres that Middle East peace talks are too crucial to be disrupted by fundamentalists and extremists.

Peres complained about China’s voting record against Israel in the United Nations, and the Chinese foreign minister agreed to reconsider its traditional pro-Arab and anti-Israel record in foreign affairs.

Other points raised by Peres included the failure of China and its official airline to conclude an agreement with E1 A1, Israel’s national airline.

E1 A1 began operating a weekly charter flight between Ben-Gurion Airport and Beijing last September. But Air China has not yet signed a regular scheduled flight agreement and has not yet begun its own promised flights to Israel.

Reports of the trip by Peres, who is being accompanied by a delegation of Israeli industrialists and businessmen and a small press group, have been sparse, partly because of communications problems.

The heavy schedule has also created problems. An Israel Radio correspondent reported over the weekend that the journalists hardly knew what day it was, because of the pressure of keeping up with the official group.

Upon his arrival in China, Peres paid the traditional visit to the Great Wall and visited Beijing University, where he was granted the title of honorary professor and inaugurated the Ben Gurion Chair in International and Middle Eastern Relations.

The Israeli foreign minister left Beijing on Saturday night for Shanghai for a short visit before returning to Israel, where he was scheduled to arrive midweek.

In Shanghai, China’s largest city and main port, Peres said that Israel would be opening a consulate there. Israel already has established an embassy in Beijing.

Before arriving in Beijing, Peres spent two days in New Delhi, the first visit by an Israeli Cabinet minister to India since the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries last year.

During his stay in New Delhi, Peres met with Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma and Foreign Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and offered to help India in its fight against terrorism.

Peres also signed a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation and agreements on interaction in the fields of science and technology and cultural affairs.

Because of the Shavuot holiday, the JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Wednesday, May 26.

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