Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is beginning a five-day visit to Southeast Asia, making stops in the Philippines and South Korea. In Manila, Cohen will meet President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo, and will be the first top Israeli diplomat to fly to Manila since 1967, when Abba Eban visited the Philippine capital. He will also meet with his South Korean counterpart Park Jin in Seoul.
Cohen is leading an Israeli economic delegation as well, which in Manila will focus on agriculture, water, energy, health, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity. Meetings with South Korean counterparts will deal with automotive technology, robotics, smart factories and AI, according to the Foreign Ministry.
In a prepared statement, Cohen says that Israel is strengthening ties “with Southeast Asia’s rising powers.”
“Asia is a continent with enormous potential, with great importance to Israel and its economy,” he continues.
Israel’s free trade agreement with South Korea, its first with a country in the Asia-Pacific, went into effect in late 2022.