During his visit to Israel on October 29-31, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics called on Israeli officials for the development of economic and trade contacts between both countries and support for Latvia's accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), LETA was informed by the Foreign Ministry's Press and Information Department.
Rinkevics met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and invited him on behalf of President Berzins to visit Latvia. Rinkevics and Peres agreed on the key importance of education and knowledge-based economies for the development of small countries. "This opens excellent opportunities for our future cooperation," said the Latvian foreign minister. Peres lauded Latvia's economic achievements and expressed his support for strengthening relations with Latvia.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also confirmed that Israel is interested in forging closer relations with Latvia. Rinkevics emphasized that this year is particularly significant - it marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Latvia and Israel. Both foreign ministers expressed their commitment to strengthening economic and trade cooperation, including contacts between Latvian and Israeli businessmen.
The Latvian foreign minister urged to continue efforts in expanding the legal framework between Latvia and Israel: to finalize the coordination of the updated program for cooperation in the fields of education, culture and science, as well as the draft agreement on land transport.
"The Latvian Jewish community plays an important role in promoting cooperation between both countries," noted Rinkevics. "Moreover, this year we mark 450 years since Jewish communities first settled in the present territory of Latvia". In response to the Israeli Foreign Minister's questions concerning the restitution of former Jewish property, Rinkevics informed about the dialogue between the Latvian government and the Jewish community and emphasized the necessity for a political and public consensus.
Liberman stressed the interest of Israel in strengthening cooperation with the European Union and commended the October 23 decision of the European Parliament on the ratification of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products, which will facilitate EU-Israeli trade.
The parties discussed in detail the developments in the Middle East, in particular, the situation in Syria, as well as the progress with the Middle East Peace Process. Rinkevics reiterated support for the two-state solution, which can be achieved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. "Unilateral steps will not advance the process," said the Latvian foreign minister.
As part of his visit, Rinkevics also met with the head of Israel's National Security Council, Yaacov Amidror, and visited the memorial of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance organization "Yad Vashem".
RIGA, Oct 31 (LETA)
October 31, 2012