(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, today (Tuesday, 8 April 2014), began his state visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit began with a state welcome reception and a diplomatic meeting with President Xi Jinping. President Peres was welcomed by a guard of honor and a choir of children waving Israeli and Chinese flags.
President Xi Jinping began the meeting between the two by welcoming President Peres to China and said: "Mr. President, welcome to China. It is indeed a great pleasure to meet with you, you are a senior statesman of Israel and an old friend of the Chinese people. Over the years you have made important contributions to China-Israel bilateral relations."
President Xi Jinping made clear during the meeting that China supports the continued negotiations with Iran within the P5+1 framework and believes that a solution should be found diplomatically. He continued and said that China opposes the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and understands Israel's security concerns.
President Xi Jinping addressed the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and said, "Right now the peace talks between Israel and Palestine are at a critical stage. We hope the Israeli side will act in long term fundamental interest of the Israeli people bearing in mind the bigger picture of peace and make courageous decisions to work together with the Palestinian side and the international community to push for substantive progress as soon as possible."
President Peres thanked the Chinese President and said: "Thank you so much for your words, thank you for your invitation. I came on behalf of the people of Israel to express our admiration for China and her important role in the world."
President Peres addressed the peace talks and said: "These are indeed crucial days in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, it is important to return to the table – we must fight for peace. China can be a key player in strengthening stability and progressing the cause of peace in the Middle East." President Peres also addressed the Iranian nuclear program and said: "China has a central role in the efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Iran is the center of terror in the world. Iran funds terrorism and exports it across the entire Middle East and beyond. Iran is building a nuclear bomb, threatens to destroy Israel and is developing long range missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads."
President Peres also raised the increased cooperation between Israel and China in the fields of technology, medicinal agriculture and neuroscience. He called for direct flights by Chinese airlines from China to Israel to increase tourism the two countries.
After the meeting, which lasted two hours, President Xi Jinping hosted President Peres and his delegation for dinner at the Presidential Palace and during dinner a Chinese military band surprised President Peres with a medley of Israeli songs.