Visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu met on Monday with Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein in the latter`s bureau. Basescu was greeted at the Israeli parliament by an honor guard and signed the Knesset guestbook at Chagall Hall.

At the opening of the meeting, Speaker Edelstein said, ”It is nice to welcome guests, and it is even nicer to welcome good friends. We very much appreciate the fact that we can be certain of Romania`s positive stance towards Israel.”

President Basescu said he considers Israel to be a ”family state” to Romania. ”We are developing a partnership with Israel, in various fields, step by step. This is a strategic partnership between countries,” he added.

The current visit to Israel is President Basescu`s first since he took office. He first visited the country in 2009. In the past he served as transportation minister and mayor of Bucharest. The Romanian president is a sailor by trade and worked in the past as a sea captain.

President Basescu is heading a delegation that includes former Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu, who currently serves as an advisor to the president; Presidential Counsellor for Security Issues Iulian Fota and State Secretary for Global Affairs Mihail Dobre.

The purpose of the visit is to upgrade the bilateral relations between Israel and Romania. In June the two countries marked 65 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations. Romania was one of the countries that refused to sever ties with Israel during the Cold War.

Romania is also one of the few countries that hold annual inter-parliamentary meetings (G2G) with Israel, and it hopes to take over the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day the Romanian parliament traditionally issues an official statement condemning anti-Semitism and racism.