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Israel secures Chinese pledge to not aid Iran’s nuclear plans

JERUSALEM, Aug. 24 (JTA) — China has agreed not to help Iran build a nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement Sunday during a refueling stopover in Beijing on the first leg of a Far Eastern trip. Netanyahu, who was accompanied by Finance Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman and a contingent of 16 Israelis representing high-tech businesses, was making the trip to convince Asian companies to strengthen trade with Israel despite the reversals of the Israeli- Palestinian peace process. During the stopover in Beijing, Netanyahu met with China’s deputy prime minister, Li Lanqing, who assured the Israeli leader that the Chinese government had decided not to help Iran with nuclear technology. “The Iranian issue was discussed. I raised the danger of Iran’s trying to arm itself with atomic weapons and ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu told reporters after the meeting. “I asked China to use its influence, which is significant in Iran, to reverse its plans. I was told that China made an important decision not to give Iran the means to build a nuclear reactor, as it had been asked.” Netanyahu said he hoped the move would serve as an example for other countries considering such sales to Tehran. Both Israel and the United States have lobbied Russia not to sell Iran missile technology to build medium-range missiles. The prime minister said that he and Ne’eman had been invited to visit China next year. Netanyahu arrived later Sunday in Japan, where he was scheduled to visit for three days before traveling on to South Korea for two more days of talks before returning home.