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March 16, 2012 10:36 am

China, Israel Talk Iran Nuclear Program in Beijing

avatar by Zachary Lichaa

Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: wiki commons.

During his visit to China on Friday, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attempted to provide clarity on his country’s position towards the Iranian nuclear program while meeting with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping.

“For us, it’s crucial to explain our position to our Chinese partners,” Lieberman told reporters in Beijing.

China and Israel are on opposite ends of the spectrum in how to approach Iran’s enrichment of uranium.  The Chinese have been adamant that unilateral sanctions aimed at the Islamic Republic are not appropriate, while expressing their desire for international negotiations and strongly opposing military intervention.  The Israelis, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said that international sanctions are close to running their course and a pre-emptive strike may be on the horizon.

“We prefer that the international community will resolve the Iranian issue through talks, P5+1, through some negotiations, sanctions etcetera,” Lieberman said in China on Friday. “But if not, I think it’s our right to protect ourselves, to defend ourselves. As I mentioned, we keep all options on the table.”

China, which has the world’s second largest economy, imports more oil from Iran than any other country and the two nations engage in $30 billion worth of trade annually. Economic ties between Israel and China have grown steadily since the two countries established diplomatic relations 20 years ago, and in 2010 they completed over $7.5 billion worth of trade, making China Israel’s largest Asian trading partner.

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