Chinese President to Peres: Peace Talks at a 'Critical Stage'

China's President welcomes visiting Israeli President, says he hopes to see progress in peace talks.

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Elad Benari,

President Shimon Peres meets Chinese Presiden
President Shimon Peres meets Chinese Presiden
Flash 90

The President of China, Xi Jinping, told visiting President Shimon Peres on Tuesday that he hoped to see progress in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Peres’s state visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese President began with a welcome reception and a diplomatic meeting with President Xi. Peres was welcomed by a guard of honor and a choir of children waving Israeli and Chinese flags.

"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," said Xi.

He also told Peres 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 Peres thanked the Chinese President and said, "Thank you so much for you 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, "There 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."

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."

The Israeli President 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, Xi hosted 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.

Israel has been making signs of rapprochement towards China and away from the U.S. That process began picking up speed last May, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travelled to China.

The Israel-PA process, meanwhile, has reached an impasse. Last week the PA applied to 15 international organizations in breach of the conditions of the peace talks. Israel responded  by cancelling the fourth terrorist release “gesture”.

Before leaving for China, Peres told Army Radio in an interview that Israel should "do everything possible" to continue negotiations.

"There are still budding hopes [for talks]," Peres stated. "We should encourage [negotiations] and work hard for them [to continue]."

"You should not say kaddish over talks," Peres insisted. "We should do everything possible to continue negotiations."