Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has pledged to work for closer ties with China's military during a visit to Beijing, China's Defense Ministry said Monday.
Barak's statement came in a meeting Sunday with the chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, Gen. Chen Bingde, the ministry said.
"The Israeli side values the development of military exchanges and cooperation with China and wishes to work together with our Chinese friends to raise military-to-military relations to a new level," the ministry quoted Barak as saying.
Chen told Barak that relations between their militaries were an important part of overall ties and have strengthened markedly over recent years, the ministry said.
"There is tremendous potential for friendly cooperation between the two militaries," it quoted Chen as saying.
The ministry gave few details of their discussions in a brief report posted on its website and the Israeli Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to an emailed request for information.
Barak also held talks with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
China developed one of its most modern fighter jets, the J-10, from an Israeli design and has close ties with the Israeli defense industry.
China is also a top Israeli trading partner and relations between the two countries have been generally good, although strained at times. Israel infuriated China in 2000 when U.S. pressure forced Israel to cancel the sale of sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft to Beijing. Israel also aborted a deal to upgrade drone aircraft sold to China, also under U.S. pressure.
China, meanwhile, upset Israel by inviting the foreign minister from the Hamas-led Palestinian government, boycotted by Israel and the West, to attend a conference in Beijing.