Rivlin invites Georgian counterpart to Knesset

Move signals improved ties between countries in aftermath of pardon of two Israeli businessmen.

December 9, 2011 05:26
1 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin [file]

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset Channel)

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin renewed an invitation to his Georgian counterpart David Bakradze to visit the Knesset on Thursday, signaling improved ties between Israel and the country following Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s pardon of two Israeli businessmen earlier this week.

The two men, Roni Fuchs and Ze’ev Frenkel, began serving a six-and-a-half- to seven-year sentence in April for bribery. They were suspected of offering Georgia’s deputy finance minister $5 million in December 2010, so he would accelerate the payment of $100m. owed to them by the Georgian government following the cancellation of an oil and gas distribution contract.

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In March, Rivlin asked Bakradze to postpone his visit to Israel, saying that the timing was inappropriate, because many Israelis were concerned about the fate of Fuchs and Frenkel, but on Thursday, he invited the Georgian Parliament chairman once again.

The Knesset speaker pointed out that in 2012, Israel and Georgia will mark 20 years of diplomatic relations.

“I am confident that your visit here will help foster the good relations already existing between our two countries and our two nations,” Rivlin wrote.

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze is expected to visit Israel in two weeks, following an invitation from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately after the two businessmen were pardoned.

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