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China, Israel presidents hold first-ever phone call

Published: Updated:

The heads of state of China and Israel spoke by phone for the first time ever Wednesday, with Israeli President Isaac Herzog raising Iran’s nuclear program in a call with China’s Xi Jinping.

China and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1992, 44 years after the Jewish state’s creation, and Israeli presidents have visited China since.

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But according to Herzog’s office, Wednesday saw “the first-ever phone call between the presidents of China and Israel.”

The Israeli presidency is a largely ceremonial role, with most executive authority held by the prime minister.

But in his call with Xi, Herzog addressed Iran’s nuclear program, one of Israel’s top national security priorities.

Herzog “emphasized the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability” and accused the Islamic republic of “undermining regional stability in the Middle East,” his office said.

His call with Xi came ahead of the resumption on November 29 of nuclear talks in Vienna, stalled since June.

The talks aim to revive a 2015 deal that offered Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for major curbs on its nuclear activities.

The US unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under the administration of former president Donald Trump.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that the Xi-Herzog call came ahead of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in January, which Beijing would use to promote its “comprehensive partnership” with Israel.

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