Deal would contribute billions to Israel’s economy; Rivlin met with Moon Jae-in in Seoul Monday, signed MOUs in education and energy; Talks centered on bilateral ties, trade, and cooperation in AI, defense and much more; Rivlin: Let’s explore the miracles we can make together.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin met with President Moon Jae-in on Monday in Seoul. Their meeting centered on increasing bilateral ties amidst reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may sign a major free trade deal with South Korea later this month. Both presidents signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) in the fields of energy and education.

Rivlin was accompanied by Israeli academics and business people, as well as a delegation from the private sector, and held talks on future cooperation in multiple fields, such as “hi-tech, cyber, health and defense,” as well as 5G communication and artificial intelligence. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Rivlin and Moon both “spoke about the growing ties between the two countries and where the cooperation can be expanded.” Both leaders gave a press conference following their meeting.

Rivlin spoke of the future of technology and innovation, highlighting Israel and S. Korea’s cooperation in both fields. He stated, “I believe that Israel and South Korea can work together to spread the blessings of technology and innovation throughout the Middle East,” and called to “explore the miracles we can make together.” He praised tourism from South Korea to Israel, which has grown significantly, with 45,000 tourists visiting Israel in 2018.

The South Korean premier boasted on bilateral relations and the over $2.7 billion in trade between both countries in 2018 alone, referring to strong, common cultural values and the future of innovation. He stated Monday, “Israel and Korea share common democratic and economic values, and our relationship has grown stronger over the years, beginning with the establishment of relations in 1962. Our bilateral ties are reaching new heights with a trade relationship of $ 2.7 billion last year. We have also made great progress in relationships that help develop innovation, especially in the field of autonomous vehicles, thanks to the joint development fund that our governments have been financing since 2001.”

Israel has become the center for autonomous vehicles, and major companies and players have relocated their research and development centers to the Jewish state.

Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to travel to both South Korea and Japan at the end of the month. The reports claim S. Korea and Israel will sign a trade deal. However, it will exclude trade with the Golan Heights, West Bank settlements, and Gaza Strip. The trade deal will bring billions of dollars in exports and imports and increase Israel’s influence within Asia.