(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman met today in Beijing with China's Vice President Xi Jinping and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi.
In their meeting, FM Liberman and his hosts discussed the strengthening of bilateral relations and the promotion of cooperation on issues of agriculture, water, science and technology, all of which are high on the Chinese agenda.
FM Liberman stated: “We are marking 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. Since then we have made significant progress in strengthening the relationship, and our intent is to further expand and strengthen the relationship in many additional areas, with special emphasis on the next generation. One phase of this objective is the special scholarships for study in Israel offered by the State of Israel to 250 Chinese students.”
At a press conference with Chinese media held in Beijing this afternoon, FM Liberman stated that “Despite the harsh sanctions, we do not discern any willingness on the part of the Iranians to forego their nuclear plans. We prefer that the international community solve the problem through diplomatic negotiations and other means. However, should these prove unsuccessful, it is our right to defend ourselves, and we are keeping all options on the table. We believe that the international community is capable of stopping Iran, it is a matter of resolve and determination.”
FM Liberman expressed his support of the position of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and stated: “I agree with her that the round of talks with Iran due to begin in April is the last chance for the Iranians to resolve the matter peacefully.” FM Liberman added that “If the efforts of the international community fail, the consequences will be extremely severe for the entire world, and will result in a nuclear arms race and political instability in the Middle East as well as instability in the global energy market.”
In response to a question regarding IDF attacks in Gaza, FM Liberman stated that “Israel truly wants peace with the Palestinians. Israel evacuated thriving settlements in the Gaza Strip and returned to the 1967 lines, but since then we have been rewarded with constant rocket and terror attacks from Gaza against southern Israel. As the well-known Chinese saying goes: we will not attack unless we are attacked; but if we are attacked, we will respond with determination.”