Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Monday morning in Jerusalem to discuss a strategic cooperation agreement to promote Internet Cloud Technology.The timing of Ballmer's trip, just ten days after Microsoft launched Windows 8, highlights Israel's importance in the hi-tech realm.According to the Finance Ministry, the government is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft that will outline the parameters of the relationship, including a focus on areas ranging from technological development, the handling of large databases and the use of technology to reduce bureaucratic burdens, to data protection and privacy, the development of e-government services, and information-sharing capabilities.Finance Minister Steinitz hailed the partnership, saying "global companies should be encouraged to invest in Israeli technology and establish development centers in the country.""These investments yield mutual benefits," he continued, "the Israeli government benefits from global knowledge, whereas companies benefit from Israel's human capital and the relative advantage of the country's hi-tech industry."For his part, Ballmer praised Israel's technological innovation as "the driving force behind Israel's dynamic economy.""Microsoft is proud to work in an environment that nurtures innovation and has created such a large number of successful companies," he said.Globes contributed to this report.Ballmer also met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later in the day, during which they discussed Microsoft's commitment to Israel as well as the company's vast investments in the local market which have fostered economic growth.Following their meeting, Netanyahu said that "The combination of the State of Israel and Microsoft is natural since the Israeli high-tech industry is among the world's leaders."Microsoft was wise enough to see its potential many years ago and to benefit from the quality personnel in Israel. Our investment in high-tech industries and in training people for high-tech will continue to succeed and bear fruit. I believe that cooperation between the State of Israel and Microsoft will continue for many years."In September, Microsoft Corporation completed the establishment of its Israeli innovation center, one of 31 Microsoft Technology Centers worldwide. Microsoft invested millions of dollars in the Microsoft Technology Center Israel, based at Microsoft Israel Ltd.'s premises in Ra'anana.