SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is visiting Israel for a weeklong mission to promote trade with the Mediterranean country. Herbert participated in historic meetings with many local officials and dignitaries, including Israel's president Shimon Peres and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad.
"The common characteristics, values and economic strengths between the State of Utah and Israel make this trade mission a good fit and unique opportunity," Herbert said in a press release. "There are indeed meaningful possibilities for enhanced economic cooperation and vitality between the Beehive State and Israel."
A major highlight of the trip was a diplomatic exchange with President Peres held in the President's residence in Jerusalem. President Peres, a Nobel Peace prize winner and who has served twice as prime minister of Israel, says he likes Herbert's optimism.
Optimist and pessimists end up the same way. It's how they live that's different.
–Shimon Peres, president of Israel
"Optimist and pessimists end up the same way," Peres said. "It's how they live that's different."
Earlier in the day, Herbert present Fayyad with a photo book about Utah and a plate featuring the Utah state seal. The two leaders talked about Utah businesses interested in trade and investment opportunities with Palestinian companies. It was the first time in modern memory that a U.S. governor has taken a business delegation to Israel.
"It was a rare privilege to meet today with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and business leaders in Ramallah to exchange views and explore areas of mutual interest," Herbert said. "It is our hope that these historic meetings in the West Bank — between the Utah delegation and Palestinian leaders— will not only open up new opportunities and new markets for Utah and Palestine, but also lead to greater peace and prosperity through economic development."
The Governor will spend three days in Tel Aviv and two days in Jerusalem. Utah's trade mission to Israel will conclude at the end of this week.