Chinese VP kicks off visit to Israel

File - In this Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 file photo, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, waits for Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio in Beijing. China's vice president has kicked off a trip to Israel, in a strong signal of the warming ties between the two countries. Wang Qishan arrived on Monday for a three-day trip, highlighted by his participation in a joint summit of innovation cooperation that he will co-host with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Roman Pilipey/Pool Photo via AP, File)

China's vice president has kicked off a trip to Israel, in a signal of the warming ties between the two countries

JERUSALEM — China's vice president on Monday kicked off a trip to Israel that illustrated the warming ties between the two countries.

Wang Qishan is in the region for a three-day trip. The highlight will be co-hosting a joint summit of innovation cooperation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will also head to the West Bank to visit the Palestinians.

Wang, a confidant of President Xi Jinping, is one of the most senior Chinese officials to visit Israel since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. In 2000, China's then president, Jiang Zemin, became the first-ever Chinese president to visit.

Netanyahu called the visit a "tremendous compliment" to Israel.

Wang visited Jerusalem's Old City before he was welcomed by Netanyahu at the prime minister's official residence for dinner Monday.

Israel and China have become close trade partners, with China showing interest in Israeli developments in agriculture, water and other environmental technologies. Israel has also become a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

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