German Chancellor Merkel begins Israel visit

March 16th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by admin  

Tel Aviv, March 16 (DPA) German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel Sunday to begin a three-day visit, which both countries hope, will usher in a new phase in bilateral relations. Merkel was received at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who thanked the German leader for her “outstanding” friendship and “deep understanding” of Israel’s needs.

Merkel for her part said the visit would begin a “new chapter” in relations between the two states, who established full diplomatic ties in 1965.

The visit by Merkel, who is accompanied by a high-powered delegation of cabinet ministers, business leaders and scientists, is to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state.

Merkel and her eight accompanying ministers are due to hold a joint meeting with the Israeli cabinet Monday morning, in what is seen as a definite indication of the strengthening of the ties between the two countries.

On Tuesday, Merkel will speak in the Knesset, after the chamber modified its regulations which stipulate that only a visiting head of state, as opposed to head of government, may speak to the body.

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