Chinese Premier, Olmert Talk About Iran, Trade Ties

BEIJING - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday met with Chinese president Hu Jintao, thus closing his official visit to China. Their talks centered on the economic ties between Israel and China as well as the Iranian nuclear threat.

Senior officials present at meetings said the Chinese position is that Tehran should not be allowed to develop military nuclear capabilities.

Olmert was told by his Chinese hosts that the permanent member of the United Nations Security Council would do everything possible to find a solution conforming to the spirit of Resolution 1737, which demands that Iran cease working to enrich uranium.

Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was invited to Beijing prior to Olmert's arrival. He was told of China's insistence that the Non-Proliferation Regime - which calls for blocking the spread of nuclear arms - should be maintained. Chinese officials also called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN watchdog on these matters.

Olmert told the Chinese president that Israel preferred a diplomatic solution, and hoped Iran would be blocked via diplomatic pressure.

He commended China for its Security Council vote on Resolution 1737, which imposed "soft" sanctions on Iran for violating an international call to cease uranium enrichment.

Olmert also said Israel would appreciate if this Chinese policy were to continue, so that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats to wipe Israel off the map would not materialize.

"The resolution enabled the implementation of economic sanctions that will block Iran from becoming a nuclear power," Olmert said.

The Chinese president also condemned Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, and recalled the 1930s and 1940s, periods when China and the Jews both opposed Germany and Japan.

Hu is the secretary general of China's Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. In the West, little is known about his personality or about the Chinese leadership's decision-making process.

Hu's contacts with Israel have been limited - his only previous contact was a meeting with President Moshe Katsav, who visited Beijing last year.

Olmert officially invited Hu to visit Israel, and expressed the hope that with the building of closer ties, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao would become a regular visitor.