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For the first time, an Israeli business delegation has visited Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, to forge closer ties, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

The mission comprised representatives of eight Israeli companies and was organized by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry’s commercial attaché in Singapore. It followed the visit by Indonesia’s Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) to Israel in 2006.

Officials from the Foreign Ministry and executives of Kadin did not return a call to confirm the visit. But Ana Katz, a commercial attaché in Singapore, confirmed the delegation has visited Jakarta.

Because Israel has no diplomatic ties with Indonesia, it took three years to build the necessary infrastructure for the creation of direct business relations that would be permitted by law in both countries, Katz said.

“We’ve been working consistently in the past few years to strengthen ties between the business sectors in both countries,” the newspaper quoted Katz as saying.

“In the past three years, we have focused on building the infrastructure for the creation of direct business relation systems between businesspeople on both sides, relations which are permitted by law in both countries.”

She added the infrastructure included creating ties with key officials on the Indonesian side, while setting in motion a process of hiring advisers working under the embassy’s commercial department and helping Israeli companies with their activities in Indonesia.

Trade volume between Israel and Indonesia stood at US$47.8 million in the first half of 2009 – a 60 percent drop from the same period last year. The volume of exports in the first half of the year totaled $5.2 million.

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August 2009

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