China in talks with Arabs states to increase arms sales

Monday, December 8, 2003

ABU DHABI Ń Beijing has held three high-level defense and military talks with three Arab countries on one week in what diplomatic sources said was a Chinese effort to renew weapons sales and cooperation with allies in the Middle East.

China has held talks with Kuwait, Sudan and Syria over the last week. In Damascus, a high-level Chinese military delegation discussed a series of projects and training with Syrian military and defense chiefs.

A CIA report released in November asserted that China was a leading supplier of missile and weapons of mass destruction technology to Syria. The report said Beijing has been helping Damascus in developing solid-fuel missile technology.

The sources said Chinese arms sales in the Middle East has declined sharply over the last two years, Middle East Newsline reported.

In Khartoum, China and Sudan discussed a range of weapons projects during the visit by Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan, diplomatic sources in Khartoum said. They said Friday's talks covered a range of Sudanese options for payment, including Chinese energy projects in Sudan.

China has been cited as a leading military supplier to Khartoum. A report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Beijing has sold aircraft, artillery and other platforms to Sudan's military.

At the same time, Kuwaiti Defense Minister Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah completed a week-long visit to Beijing to discuss a range of Chinese military sales to the sheikdom. China has begun to deliver advanced 155 mm artillery for a second Kuwaiti artillery brigade.

"The two countries have signed 13 different agreements, the most important ¹of which is the security and military cooperation agreement and the investment ¹¹agreement," the Kuwaiti ambassador to Beijing, Faisal Al Ghais, said.

Kuwaiti sources said the two countries completed a schedule of defense and military cooperation in 2004. They said Beijing and Kuwait also agreed to establish a joint panel to activate a memorandum of understanding signed by Kuwait and China in 1995.

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