An initiative of President Shimon Peres, proposed during a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, will promote global agricultural cooperation.

In accordance with this initiative, Agriculture Minister MK Shalom Simhon and his counterpart in the Russian government will form a permanent joint committee of agricultural cooperation between the two countries. The committee will be headed by the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, Yossi Yishai, and Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sergey Korolev.

The budding of the initiative was visible Monday, following the arrival of 10 senior Russian governmental officials, including the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and 15 representatives of agro-technology companies. They are here on a two-day visit aimed at outlining the main objectives of the planned cooperation and fostering ties between Israeli and Russian companies engaged in agricultural technology development and business.

The visit began Sunday with a large convened forum including the Russian delegation and representatives of the agriculture ministry in Israel.  As part of the forum, a memorandum of understanding was signed which includes spheres of cooperation promoted by the working group. Among the areas addressed were trade promotion, strengthening of agricultural technology sharing between the two countries, transfer of information in research, development and training, the formulation of standard agro-forums for the private sector for networking and information exchange and the creation of joint workshops and exhibitions.

The agreement will form the basis for a discussion to be held on December 3 at a meeting of the Joint Israel-Russia Economic Committee in Moscow, headed by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The visiting delegation also took part in the first agro-forum meeting. Taking part in the exchange with the Russian visitors were representatives from about 30 Israeli companies working in agriculture and technology, agricultural farms, and other fields.

MK Shalom Simhon, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that "this kind of cooperation allows us to take advantage of the accumulated knowledge and numerous experiences of Israeli agriculture, as well as the land and water resources available in Russia. The combination of the forces of these two countries, on the governmental level and in the business sector, will help promote solutions to global nutrition problems."

Another meeting of the Joint Working Group of the Israeli and Russian Ministries of Agriculture will take place in 2010 in Russia.

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