Jiang, Barak Discuss Middle East Peace, not Arms Deal
Chinese president Jiang Zemin and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak discussed the latest developments in the Middle East peace process over the phone Sunday, but not their controversial Phalcon radar deal, Barak's office said.
The unusual phone call came two days after a close aide to Barak called for the scrapping of a deal, which the United States strongly opposes, to provide advanced early warning systems to China.
"The Phalcon issue did not come up in the conversation," Barak's office said in a statement.
"The conversation was one in a series which the prime minister holds with world leaders on the political issues," it added.
Israel has come under pressure from Washington to cancel the 250 million dollar deal to fit an Israeli Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) in a Russian jet for China.
China's possession of the system is seen as a potential threat to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province that must be reunited with China by force if necessary.
There is also anxiety that the equipment could eventually pose a threat to US ships if Washington ever went to Taiwan's defense.
China last week said it objected to any interference from the United States on the issue.
The comment by Barak's aide Haim Ramon on Israeli public radio Friday was the first time a member of the government came out publicly in favor of scrapping the deal in the face of congressional threats to US aid to Israel - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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