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Georgian President on Good Will Visit to Israel - 2004-07-29

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is on his first visit to Israel to promote stronger ties between the two countries. President Saakashvili, on a three-day tour, says he wants Israelis to visit and invest in his country.

"Georgia is much more ready now for cooperation with Israel," he said. "We are growing very dynamically. We have much more order now, we have a good level of stability, very low crime rate. And I think it's a nice place for Israelis to visit. It's a nice place for Israelis to do business with."

The president brought with him some of his key Cabinet ministers, 14 members of parliament and business leaders.

His delegation is holding discussions with top Israeli officials about how their two nations can develop stronger economic and defense ties.

He was greeted by Israeli President Moshe Katsav who says there is good reason to be positive about future relations between Georgia and the Jewish State.

"I am indeed very optimistic, because the potential is very wide, and I believe the trust and the friendship between both countries and both nations giving us the atmosphere that we can be optimistic about the future," said Mr. Katsav.

Israeli officials say that Mr. Saakashvili believes the visit is an important one for the Georgian president who wants to expand his country's influence abroad.

During the visit, he announced his first step to improving ties with Israel.

Mr. Saakashvili says he will grant dual Georgian citizenship to those who emigrated from Georgia to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union.