Israel, China form strategic forum

Israel and China set up a joint, government-level forum for strategic dialogue.

Israel’s National Security Council and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies held a weeklong dialogue this month, the first in what is envisaged as an annual event.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said the talks focused on Middle Eastern and Asian regional issues, including Iran.

China is a major Iranian oil client and has heard Israeli complaints about Iran’s nuclear program. Olmert, who visited Beijing earlier this year, voiced satisfaction at China’s decision to close ranks with other U.N. Security Council members in voting for sanctions to be imposed on Tehran over the nuclear issue.

The strategic studies institute is part of China’s defense ministry. The institute’s director, Xiong Guangkai, the former Chinese People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of staff,  said the joint dialogue would be held at least once a year, alternating between Israel and China. The next round of talks will be held in Israel.

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