Peres heads to Vietnam to boost ties

President is first high-ranking Israeli official to visit Vietnam, will be accompanied by ministers, business delegation.

President Shimon Peres meets with Palau president  (photo credit: GPO)
President Shimon Peres meets with Palau president
(photo credit: GPO)
President Shimon Peres was cutting it very fine Monday evening when he hosted a state dinner for Lolu Johnson Abbil and Johnson Toribiong, the presidents of Vanuatu and Palau, respectively, just before leaving for Vietnam.
Some of his senior staff missed the dinner because they preceded Peres to the airport.
Peres who is the first high-ranking Israeli official to visit Vietnam, is the guest of President Truong Tan Sang. Peres is accompanied by Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and Agriculture Minister Orit Noked, as well as a 60-member business delegation headed by Shraga Brosh, the president of the Israel Manufacturers Association. The delegation includes leading figures in defense industries, infrastructure, communications, finance, hi-tech, water technology and agriculture. In addition to his host, Peres will meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung , National Defense Minister Phung Quang Tranh and other Vietnamese dignitaries. During the visit, Peres will participate in the signing of bilateral agreements on shipping and finance.
Peres managed to put aside other issues on two occasions Monday, prior to leaving for Vietnam. Peres hosted a reception for the two visiting presidents from the Pacific. Israel has been cultivating the island states there, and assisting them wherever possible in appreciation for their friendship at the UN. Although their populations are very small, Micronesia and Nauru, whose presidents visited last year and were hosted by Peres, consistently vote with Israel at the UN as do the Marshall Islands and Palau. Vanuatu is also generally pro-Israel, and in the recent UNESCO vote on a Palestinian state, voted against. Peres held a working meeting with Abbil and Toribiong, and told them that notwithstanding the geographic distance between their countries and Israel, they were considered to be close friends.
Abbil said this was the first visit by a president of Vanuatu to Israel and was therefore historic.
He had come to strengthen cooperation he said, and listed a number of areas in which his country is interested in enhancing its ties with Israel.