FM to Chinese leaders: Time to take stronger, immediate steps against Iran.
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni met Tuesday (30 October) with the major figures of the Chinese leadership: Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Wang Jiarui, who is in charge of the Communist Party’s external relations. The main topic of the discussions was the strengthening of economic, cultural and commercial ties between the two countries. The Chinese prime minister and foreign minister set a goal of $10 billion in mutual trade to be reached by the year 2010.
Minister Livni referred to Middle East issues, especially Iran, and said, "The international community cannot afford a nuclear Iran. It is not only the express threat to Israel. When Iran’s leader talks about wiping a country off the map, denies the Holocaust and undermines the stability of regimes in the region, the world must react. China, as a central player in the international arena, has an important role in this. China does business in Iran, it has an influence on Iran and it is a permanent member of the Security Council. Iran is testing the response of the world, and the states bordering Iran are also looking on. Hesitation in this matter is looked upon by the Iranian regime as weakness, and the moderate states in the region will try to appease Iran instead of fighting it, in order to reduce the danger to themselves. In order for the diplomatic steps to be more effective – and there are signs that the steps taken until now have been effective – the time has come to take stronger measures, more meaningful and immediate action. That is the only way to tip the balance and to influence Iran’s nuclear policy. Whoever is wary of taking violent action against Iran should be the first to support sanctions and a firm, consistent diplomatic policy. Time is not working in the world’s favor.
"A nuclear Iran would upset the stability of the Middle East and could lead to unexpected consequences for the regular supply of oil to the world, including to China, and to strengthening radical, isolationist elements on every continent.
"There are also signs that development of the nuclear program would create a ‘domino effect’ of moderate states that oppose Iran but actively appease it, starting a regional race for nuclear armament. While we are talking and the international community is holding meetings on the topic, Iran is taking advantage of the time to achieve know-how and technology. Iran’s technological clock is working faster than the political clock opposing it. The decisive moment is not the day of the explosion but rather whenever they acquire the requisite technology – and the time needed to acquire the technology is significantly shorter than the time needed to acquire the bomb.
"The Security Council should include in its sanctions actions against the Iranian banks and the Revolutionary Guards, prohibition of foreign investments in Iran and cessation of foreign trade insurance.
"China, as a permanent member of the Security Council, plays a critical role in decision-making and should act accordingly. Reluctance now to increase the pressure on Iran will make it impossible to solve the issue diplomatically. Increasing the sanctions will prevent further deterioration in the region."
Minister Livni, in her talks with the Chinese leaders, stressed the need to prevent proliferation of nuclear technology to Iran by all countries, including the Asian states.
During the meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, Minister Livni signed a tourism agreement that gives Israel the status of a preferred tourist destination and will facilitate visits by Chinese tour groups to Israel.
The Israeli minister briefed the Chinese officials about the status of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and emphasized that "the desire to see unity between Fatah and Hamas will come at the expense of progress in the negotiations with Israel." Concerning the Annapolis conference, Minister Livni said, "The meeting is supposed to relate to the dialogue taking place before, and what is to come on the day after. The meeting itself is not intended to determine the issues connected to the conflict – those will be dealt with in bilateral negotiations between the parties."
Minister Livni conveyed to her Chinese counterpart a letter written by Miki Goldwasser (mother of one of the abducted Israeli soldiers) asking the help of the Chinese government in receiving a sign of life from the sons and in bringing them home to Israel.
The Israeli and Chinese foreign ministers agreed to establish a channel for communication and personal updates between them and discussed a reciprocal visit by the Chinese foreign minister to Israel. Minister Livni also invited the Chinese prime minister to come to Israel on an official visit. The Chinese prime minister conveyed his wishes to Prime Minister Olmert for his speedy recovery.