Israeli President expresses condolences to Chinese earthquake victims

2008-05-23 16:25:22 GMT       2008-05-24 00:25:22 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres met with Chinese ambassador to Israel Zhao Jun on Friday in the President's residence in Jerusalem to express his condolences to the victims of the disastrous earthquake in China's Sichuan Province.

The known death toll from China's major earthquake increased to 55,740 as of Friday noon. Another 292,481 people were counted as injured and 24,960 were still listed as missing as a result of the8.0-magnitude quake centered in the southwestern Sichuan Province on May 12.

"Please accept my sympathies to the people in China," the Israeli President told Zhao Jun, then wrote in a condolence book that "on behalf of myself and the people of Israel, I wish to express my deepest regrets for the terrible loss of lives in the earthquake in Sichuan."

"I very much admire the rapid reaction of the Chinese government and the courage of the Chinese people." Peres told Zhao Jun that he was especially deeply moved by the Chinese leaders' decision not to give up on any one individual in the disaster.

"One must admire the respect for every soul," Peres wrote. "We salute the greatest China in spirit, not only in size."

Peres also expressed his hope that China will get over the disaster and that Israel could help in this.

Zhao Jun expressed his appreciation of Israel's donation in aid for earthquake relief in Sichuan.

Israel announced on Thursday that it would donate 1.5 million dollars in aid for earthquake relief in Sichuan.

The Israeli donation will include emergency medical and relief supplies in accordance with the priorities conveyed by the Chinese side. The aid will arrive in the coming days by special plane from Israel to Chengdu, according to a press release from the Israeli embassy in Beijing.

"Israel continues to watch with the deepest concern and distress the ongoing tragedy being faced by China and its people in the wake of the earthquake", said Israel's ambassador to China Amos Nadai on Thursday.

"The outpouring of sentiment in our country is deep and genuine. As longstanding friends of the Chinese people, we are committed to doing everything we can to help at this critical time," Nadai said in the press release.

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