Chinese President, Israeli Prime Minister Hold Telephone Talks

Published July 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Chinese president Jiang Zemin and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak had a telephone conversation Sunday, state media reported, but did not reveal details of the discussion. 

The unusual phone call came two days after a close aide to Barak on Friday called for the scrapping of a deal to provide advanced early warning systems to China, which has angered the United States. 

The official Xinhua news agency, which reported the phone call, quoted China's foreign ministry as saying the two leaders exchanged views on the development of the Middle East peace process in their talks. 

No further information was provided and it was not revealed who initiated the telephone call. 

Washington has been pressuring Israel not to go ahead with 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 China considers a renegade province that must be reunified with China by force if necessary. 

China last week said it objected to any interference from the United States on the issue. 

"No country has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and make wanton remarks on the development of normal relations between China and other countries," foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao told a regular news briefing Thursday. 

"We hope the US will not make uninvited remarks on the development of China-Israel relations." 

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 ending the deal. 

"Between our military industry and our relations with China on the one hand, and our relations with the United States and the US Congress on the other, we must come down very quickly on the side of Washington," Ramon said. 

"We must take this decision soon even if it is a difficult and complicated one," added Ramon, a minister without portfolio in Barak's government. 

The proposed deal has been heavily criticized by US lawmakers who fear Beijing's purchases of the technology could upset the military balance between China and Taiwan - BEIJING (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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