Statement by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom following meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing

Beijing, 8 November 2004

It is a great pleasure to visit China as the guest of Foreign Minister Li. I wish to take this opportunity to thank him for his kind hospitality. This is my second visit to this wonderful country, and I am once again moved by its great beauty and the warmth and friendliness of its people.

Israel attaches great importance to our relations with China.  Our two peoples share many qualities, and many common interests. Israel and China are both ancient peoples, who bring to the modern world a deep commitment to our national and cultural heritage. We are also both committed to building a stable and peaceful international system, where economic development and prosperity can flourish.

Despite our immense difference in size, Israel and China have developed close trade relations which bring real benefits to the peoples of both sides. Our cooperation, particularly in the fields of agriculture and hi-tech, is literally sowing the seeds for a better tomorrow for both countries. I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss with my colleague how our two governments can work together even more effectively to enhance this excellent cooperation.

Our discussions today also focused on key regional and international issues of mutual concern.

The two main threats to international security at this time are global terrorism and the proliferation of WMD. It is important that all responsible and peace-loving countries work together to combat these dangers, and today we discussed ways in which Israel and China can promote this shared objective.

Israel attaches great importance to China’s voice on the international stage and we value highly the close dialogue we share on these matters.

Regarding the situation in the Middle East, I reaffirmed to my colleague Israel’s commitment to the Roadmap and to a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Sadly, until now, the Palestinian side has not been ready to fulfill its obligation under this plan to combat terror. Israel hopes that the Palestinian people will be led by a responsible leadership, who will fight terror and thus make it possible to return to dialogue and negotiations for peace. . If such a partner emerges, we will be there.

Meanwhile, we are continuing with our Disengagement Plan which is designed to reduce friction on the ground and improve the prospects for negotiations when they restart. I updated my colleague on the schedule for implementing this plan, which enjoys the backing of the United States and Europe, as well as key regional players such as Egypt and Jordan.  

Finally, I wish once again to thank Foreign Minister Li for his kind hospitality and to express my commitment, and that of the government of Israel, to continue working closely together with China to promote our bilateral ties and our shared interest in peace and stability throughout the world.