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Israeli FM in Moldova after free-trade talks launched

Eli Cohen will meet with his counterpart and the Moldovan president to discuss strengthening bilateral economic and security ties.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) begins the first visit in 12 years by Jerusalem's top diplomat to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, Aug. 8, 2023. Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) begins the first visit in 12 years by Jerusalem's top diplomat to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, Aug. 8, 2023. Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen kicked off an official visit to Moldova on Monday. It is the first such visit by Israel’s top diplomat in 12 years.

He was slated to meet in Chisinau with Moldova’s foreign minister and president to discuss strengthening bilateral economic and security ties.

“I will also examine the preparations for the arrival of tens of thousands of Israelis in Moldova on their way to Uman during the holidays, and the ways to allow them a smooth and safe passage,” said Cohen.

Thousands of Israelis make a pilgrimage to Uman, Ukraine every Rosh Hashanah to pray at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

Israeli officials have warned that it would be very difficult to provide assistance to citizens in Ukraine in an emergency situation due to Russia’s ongoing war against the European country.

Last week, Israeli and Moldovan officials initiated negotiations in Jerusalem toward a free trade agreement.

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat met with Moldova’s Ambassador Alexandr Roitman to launch the negotiations, which typically take several years.

Moldova, a landlocked neighbor of Ukraine and Romania, primarily exports to Israel base metals, prepared foodstuffs, textiles, footwear and headwear. Israeli exports to Moldova include machinery, textiles, rubber, plastics, chemical products, precious stones and prepared foodstuffs.

During the meeting, both parties expressed commitment to fostering economic cooperation and acknowledged the potential of a free trade agreement to create new opportunities for businesses in both countries.

Barkat said, “This is a significant milestone in our relationship with Moldova. We are confident that a free trade agreement will serve to enhance our mutual economic interests and create new opportunities for growth and collaboration.”

Israeli free trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and South Korea went into effect in 2023. Last month, Israel signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam. Israel is also closing in on a similar agreement with Bahrain and is in talks to expand its agreement with India.

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