Netanyahu Going to China

YERUSHALAYIM -

For the first time in six years, an Israeli prime minister will visit China.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced that he will go to China next Sunday, for five days with the Chinese leadership in Shanghai, the country’s commercial capital, and Beijing.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited in 2007.

While diplomatic issues such as Iran and Syria are expected to feature on the agenda talks, the focus — according to diplomatic officials — will be on bilateral and economic issues.

Israel and China, which established diplomatic ties in 1992, conduct about $10 billion worth of trade a year, a sum that Israeli officials are hoping to increase.

Netanyahu has consistently sought to improve relations with Beijing. At a cabinet meeting last year in which he asked his ministers to curtail their travel abroad because of the economic situation, China, he said, was an exception. He urged the ministers to visit there as much as possible to further good relations.

Among the economic issues to be discussed will be plans to build a railroad from Ashdod Port to Eilat, which could serve both as way for the Chinese to ship goods to Europe without having to go through the Suez Canal, and as a possible conduit for Israeli natural gas to China.