efe-epaJerusalem

The president of Chile on Wednesday hailed the “long history of friendship and collaboration” between Chile and Israel while on an official visit to Israel during which both countries were poised to sign bilateral agreements.

Sebastián Piñera, who was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on the afternoon, said the South American country will establish several agreements with Israel on satellites, a sector he learned more about after an early-morning visit to the headquarters of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Piñera added that cooperation on the desalination of water would also be agreed, an area in which both Israel and Chile have interests as both countries have desert regions, as well as on solar energy, cyber security and technology.

The leader of the South American country praised Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin for "his permanent attitude and willingness to fight for a peaceful, harmonious relationship with the Palestinian people," adding that "peace can be brought to this Holy Land."

"I hope that Jerusalem will become a meeting place where the three great monotheistic religions can have a space to express themselves," said Piñera.

On Thursday the Chilean head of state will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He is also expected to sign agreements to bolster Chilean relations with the Palestinian authorities.

Rivlin told Piñera he recently spoke with Abbas, with whom he was in touch despite differences of opinion.

"The people of Israel long for peace, the differences between us and the Palestinians are numerous, but we must think of small steps in terms of cooperation," said Rivlin.

He urged for trust to be built on both sides and made an appeal to "not reject any plan" that could improve the economic and social situation for Israelis and Palestinians.

His statements came on the second day of the Bahrain forum, where the United States is debating its proposal for economic investments as part of its peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something the Palestinians have boycotted over the USA being the sole mediator in the peace process. EFE-EPA

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