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March 4, 2019 2:36 pm

PM Tuilaepa’s Jerusalem Visit Highlights Israel-Samoa Ties

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with his Samoan counterpart, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, in Jerusalem, March 4, 2019. Photo: Netanyahu’s Twitter account.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday in Jerusalem with his visiting Samoan counterpart, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

“Prime Minister Tuilaepa, this is your first visit to Israel and I’m sure it won’t be the last because there’s an abiding friendship between Samoa and Israel, and we greet you here as a friend,” Netanyahu said.

“We’re going to sign an agreement to remove visa requirements for Israelis and Samoans,” he added. “We appreciate your friendship. We appreciate your support in international forums and your support for Israel joining the Asian Development Bank. Equally we are cooperating in many areas in agriculture, IT, health and energy and we are prepared to do a lot more.”

“You are being welcomed as a friend,” the Israeli leader stated. “I know that you’ve had time to visit some of the sites here. I hope you take some more time. You’ll see an ancient land with deep roots in our history, yet with a striving to seize the future for the betterment of our people and all mankind. In that sense we welcome you as part of our common civilization. Welcome friend, to Jerusalem.”

Tuilaepa was also hosted for a meeting by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday.

“Our countries are on different sides of the globe but the friendship between us is deep and real,” Rivlin said. “I know that you are deeply worried about climate change. We live on the same planet, breathe the same air and drink the same water and it is our shared responsibility to ensure that climate change does not destroy our world. Our researchers develop new ideas into that are changing the world. We believe these developments can benefit us all and we are happy to share them, as we are doing with you in agriculture and water.”

The Samoan leader told Rivlin, “Mr President, thank you for welcoming me and my delegation to your beautiful country. Israel’s knowledge economy is well-known around the world and we want to make use of your achievements in many fields. The world is getting smaller and smaller and we look forward to greater interaction with you, and between Israel and the members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).”

Israel and Samoa established diplomatic relations in the 1970s. According to the Israeli Embassy in New Zealand, the Jewish state and Samoa have “endeavored to address challenges in the areas of sustainable development, human rights, poverty, terrorism, transnational crime and indeed, climate change and sea level rise, which is an issue of importance and urgency in the Pacific region.”

Two years ago, a member of the Samoan Parliament, Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu, called on his nation to unequivocally back Israel “in the face of growing hostility against God’s people from other countries in the world.”

Watch a video of the Netanyahu-Tuilaepa meeting below:

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