Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang today described the Middle East peace plan adopted by Arab leaders in Morocco three months ago as "reasonable and practical" and said it provided a sound basis for negotiations with Israel.
He also said China's desire for "normal relations" with the Soviet Union was "genuine" and expressed the hope that the new leadership in Moscow would act to remove obstacles barring an improvement in relations between the two Communist powers.
Later, Egyptian Defense Minister Abdul Halim Abu Ghazala told reporters China was supplying Egypt with 60 to 80 jets--the Chinese version of the Soviet MiG21--in addition to the roughly 100 copies of the MiG19 it has already sold this country.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali said Zhao's trip marked "a turning point" in Egyptian-Chinese relations. He also said China had agreed to build a "friendship" hall in Cairo similar to the Chinese-constructed building in Khartoum, Sudan, and that the two sides planned to hold talks on the use of the remaining half of a $128 million loan extended by China to Egypt in 1964.
Zhao, appearing at a joint press conference with President Hosni Mubarak, reiterated Chinese support for the establishment of a Palestinian state and at the same time backing for the independence of Israel on condition that it withdraws from all Arab land occupied during the 1967 war.
Zhao said there was a difference between this stand and formally recognizing Israel, and he appeared to rule out any Chinese step in this direction for the foreseeable future.
As the first Chinese premier to visit the Middle East or Africa in 19 years, Zhao was peppered with questions regarding the Chinese attitude toward the various Middle East peace proposals.
The Arab plan calls for an independent Palestinian state and provides for an implicit recognition of Israel. A proposal by President Reagan rules out such a state and envisage instead a self-governing Palestinian entity linked to Jordan.
Zhao, who is beginning a month-long tour of 10 African countries, repeated China's support for the Nonaligned Movement and solidarity with other Third World countries. He is expected to emphasis this theme as China seeks to renew its credentials as a Third World leader after years of preoccupation with changes in its own leadership and other domestic issues.