Israel and Romania are family, Romanian President Traian Basescu said during his visit to the Knesset Monday.

The Knesset greeted Basescu with a red carpet and an honor guard, and he signed the parliamentary guest book in front of its Chagall tapestry.

“It’s nice to receive guests, and even nicer to host good friends,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told Basescu.

“We very much appreciate knowing that we can count on Romania’s position towards Israel to be positive.”

Basescu responded that “we feel Israel and Romania are family. We are developing our partnership with Israel in different areas, step by step. This is a strategic partnership between the countries.”

The purpose of Basescu’s visit is to strengthen bilateral ties between Israel and Romania, which marked 65 consecutive years of diplomatic relations last June.

Romania is one of the few countries that hold government- to-government meetings with Israel in which ministers sign cooperation agreements.

The two countries plan to upgrade their joint work to fight discrimination and intolerance. Romania hopes to become chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016, and its parliament has a tradition of marking the country’s National Holocaust Memorial Day by making a declaration against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.

This is Basescu’s second trip to Israel as president; his first was in 2009. Basescu, a former ship’s captain and mayor of Bucharest, brought a 25-person entourage, including his top diplomatic and security advisers, as well as Romanian press.

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