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Wednesday, March 24, 2010     GET REAL

China, Israel take steps to resume military ties

TEL AVIV — China and Israel have begun to revive military cooperation.   

Officials said China and Israel have decided to resume reciprocal visits as well as discussions on military cooperation. They said the cooperation would not include Israeli arms sales to China.

"This is the first sparks of a relationship that has been frozen for several years," an official said.

Military sources said the visit by the Chinese delegation was not linked to the current Israeli tensions with the United States over Jewish construction in Jerusalem. They said the visit had been scheduled in 2009.

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But the sources did not rule out the prospect that the Chinese visit could lead to a resumption of military cooperation with Israel. They said they did not know of high-level Chinese military visits planned for later 2010.

On March 21, Israel's military hosted a senior Chinese Defense Ministry official, Middle East Newsline reported. Col. Huang Xueping, spokesman for the ministry and Chinese military, began a four-day visit to Israel, where he was briefed on the operations of the Israeli military spokesman's office.

"The Chinese delegation will be presented with the public-relations lessons learnt during the Second Lebanon War and during Operation Cast Lead," the Israeli military said on March 22. "Additionally, they will learn about the IDF School for Media's training system and the integration of spokesmanship and operational planning."

The statement said the Chinese delegation would tour the border with the Gaza Strip and visit military units. Huang has been accompanied by several aides, including a colonel in the Chinese Defense Ministry.

The visit was said to have been the first in years that dealt with military cooperation between China and Israel. In 2005, defense and military cooperation between Beijing and Jerusalem was suspended in wake of U.S. pressure on the Jewish state to cancel an unmanned aerial vehicle program for China's military. Israel paid more than $300 million in fines and compensation for the canceled project.

"The delegation is also due to visit other military units and will be briefed on the IDF's activity in Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on the quality of life of the Palestinian population and the media-related issues that are dealt with on a daily basis," the statement said.

Still, the Chinese military delegation has been accompanied by that of senior political leaders. On March 24, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu was scheduled to hold talks with Israel leaders in Jerusalem. Hui marked the highest-level Chinese official to visit Israel in 2010.

"The visit will focus on the need to impose sanctions on Iran," the official said.

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