During her working visit, FM Livni will meet with the prime ministers of both countries and sign a memorandum of understanding between Israel and Japan.

 FM Livni to visit South Korea and Japan


FM Livni and South Korean PM Han Meyong-Sook in Seoul, Jan 16 (Photo: prpress)

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni has left for a working visit in Noutheast Asia. There, she will meet with the new Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and with South Korean Prime Minister Han Meyong-Sook. During her visit to Tokyo, Minister Livni will sign a memorandum of understanding upgrading relations between Israel and Japan.

Minister Livni will begin her tour of Southeast Asia in South Korea, which has gained special significance with the appointment of Ban Ki-moon as the new UN Secretary General. This is the first time an Israeli foreign minister will be visiting Korea, and it follows the historic visit of Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to Israel in 2005. Israel and South Korea have maintained full diplomatic relations since 1962. In 1992, Israel reopened its embassy in Seoul, which had been closed since 1979.

On the diplomatic arena, Minister Livni will discuss with her hosts issues of major importance: the political process vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear threat, and the situation in Lebanon. She is expected to express her great appreciation for their responsible stance and their support of the three conditions set by the Quartet in relation to Hamas: recognition of Israel, adherence to signed agreements, and abandonment of terror.

Foreign Minister Livni will also make time during her visit for the promotion of economic cooperation and commercial relations between the two countries. In 2006 alone, about 300 Israeli companies completed economic deals in South Korea. Currently on the agenda is the opening of development centers in Israel of giant South Korean companies such as LG and Samsong.

In the course of her visit, Minister Livni will meet with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, tour industrial centers, and appear before economic leaders and national media personalities. She is also scheduled to speak at the Leadership Institute of Yonsei University before an audience of academicians, students, and public opinion shapers.

From Seoul, Minister Livni will proceed to Tokyo for a two-day official visit, following the visit to Israel of former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi in July 2006. After his visit, the Japanese Prime Minister appointed a special emissary to the Middle East, who since then has visited the region 15 times. Japan is the Palestinian Authority’s largest single donor state ($100 million a year), is involved in regional economic projects in the Middle East, and has an interest in deepening its involvement also on the diplomatic plane.

In Tokyo, Minister Livni is expected to explain Israel’s positions to her hosts on the subjects of the political process vis-à-vis the Palestinians, implementation of Resolution 1701 concerning Lebanon, and Iran’s nuclear threat. Another topic of discussion will be possibilities for Israeli-Japanese cooperation in the field of space research, R&D, arrangement of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Tokyo, and expansion of cooperation with the Japanese international aid agency, JICA.