JERUSALEM (Feb. 19)
Israel and China have agreed to boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Natan Sharansky met Wednesday with Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanquing, who is on a weeklong visit to Israel.
Their meeting took place the same day that Chinese officials announced the death of their leader, Deng Xiaoping.
Observers said that the death of the 93-year-old Deng, who had not been seen in public in recent years, would likely have little impact on the Chinese political scene.
During his meeting with Li, Sharansky expressed disappointment with the level of trade between the two countries, according to a statement issued by the Israeli Trade Ministry.
Israel and China formally established diplomatic and trade relations four years ago.
Israeli exports to China totaled $81 million last year. Chinese exports to Israel in 1996 were $160 million.
The two sides agreed to set up joint committees to explore possible cooperation in the areas of agriculture, electronics, medical equipment and telecommunications.