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Monday, June 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

China, Israel conduct senior-level defense talks for first time since 2000

TEL AVIV — China and Israel have begun their highest-level defense dialogue in a decade.


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who sparked the decline in defense relations with China, has arrived in Beijing for meetings with senior officials. This marked the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to China in a decade.

"There will be a very serious discussion over Chinese weapons in the Middle East," an official said.

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Officials said Barak has been hosted by his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie, and would also meet the nation's military chiefs, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Barak's visit required months of preparation as well as consultations with the United States, which pressed the Jewish state to end arms exports to Beijing.

"The discussions will not include weapons sales," the official said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, China was deemed a major defense client of Israel. But as prime minister in 2000, Barak, under intense U.S. pressure, agreed to cancel the sale of Israel's Phalcon airborne early-warning system to the Chinese Air Force.

The AEW cancellation, which included $350 million in Israeli compensation, led to a decline in Chinese-Israeli defense trade. In 2006, the United States pressured Israel to cancel a project to upgrade its Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle to China as well as end all other defense and security exports to Beijing.

China has been deemed a leading supplier to the ballistic missile programs of Iran and Syria. Officials said China has also served as a waystation for the flow of North Korean equipment and technology for missile and nuclear programs of Middle East states.

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