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Israeli PM's China visit to strengthen ties: spokesman


JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to China is expected to further strengthen the relations between the two countries and bring more tangible benefits to the Israeli and Chinese peoples, his spokesman said Wednesday.

At the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, Netanyahu is scheduled to visit China on May 6-10. It will be his first visit abroad since he took office for a third term in late March.

"The fact that he has chosen China as his first destination demonstrates clearly the importance that the Israeli government attaches to our relationship with China," Mark Regev told Xinhua.

"The dialogue between Israel and China is very important and the cooperation between Israel and China is crucial," he said.

"Ultimately, Israel is a world-center for science and technology. We are in many ways the center of innovation when it comes to hi-tech, whether it's agricultural technology, communication technology. For all these reasons, we believe that Israel and China cooperating, Chinese industry with Israeli technology, Chinese agriculture with Israeli technology, it can have tangible benefits for both our peoples," he said.

During his stay in China, Netanyahu will visit both Shanghai and Beijing and meet many Chinese entrepreneurs, said the spokesman.

"We believe the potential is there for a much stronger, much more robust and much larger cooperation between Israel and China," he added.

Regev said the Israeli prime minister is "very much" looking forward to the upcoming trip to China and has been impressed by the changes in China during his previous trips.

He said that besides bilateral relations, Netanyahu will discuss with the Chinese leadership about regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the Israeli- Palestinian peace process.

Commenting on China's role in the stalled peace process, Regev said "There is no substitute for direct, face to face negotiations. We hope that all countries will encourage the expeditious return to direct talks."