The setting was spectacular; the giant Tiananmen Square in the heart of China was full of Israeli flags alongside the Chinese flag. The Israeli flag also waved from the mausoleum of the adored Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung.
Across the Great Hall of the People, in the Chinese Parliament building, which contains 5,000 members, red carpets awaited. The band played the Israeli and Chinese national anthems, and some 200 soldiers were present at the event.
"This is an emotional moment for me. I wish that my parents were here with me," said Olmert, whose grandfather is buried in China and whose parents had lived in China for a short time after fleeing Russia.
"This is an important moment for strengthening the relationship between two great nations and peoples. For me this day marks 15 years of relations with China, this is a great honor and a very important day. It is important that Israel has ties with China," said Olmert.
"Your visit here, also due to your family ties, is a very important one," replied his Chinese counterpart. "We look forward to friendship between the two countries," he stated.
Welcoming Olmert in China (Photo: Reuters)
After making statements for the press, the two leaders had a political meeting, which dealt mainly with subjects such as strengthening economic cooperation.
Olmert arrived at the meeting after spending the morning visiting the Great Wall of China north of Beijing.
Despite publications of an investigation awaiting Olmert upon his return, he chose to ignore what has been going on in Israel and go on with business as usual.
No change in Iran policyDuring the meeting, Olmert asked PM Jiabao to reconsider the sanction policy against Iran. Olmert said that he was aware of the fact that part of Chinese oil comes from Iran, and of the financial trade between the two courtiers which amounts to some five billion dollars.
Still, Olmert pointed out that these high figures are not worth the loss of stability in the Middle East.
"The Iranian threat could really shake up the Middle East, and China's support, as one of the five deciding countries in the UN, of stricter sanctions against Iran, is very important," said Olmert.
Olmert's entourage reported that China is not interested in Iran being armed with nuclear weapons.
Sources from Olmert's office feel that China is indeed sticking to policies for the prevention of Iranian nuclear weapons, but nonetheless fears its economy could suffer.
According to a senior official source of Olmert's office, no change is expected in China's stance on Iran, even after Olmert and Jiabao's meeting.
Still, sources give great importance to the fact that the meeting was held with the Chinese prime minister and the Chinese president.