President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of December 12 with the Israeli delegation participating in the First Bilateral Israel-Taiwan Life Science Conference. In addition to welcoming the delegation to Taiwan on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, he called for further enhancement of interaction and cooperation between Taiwan and Israel in a variety of areas.
In remarks, the president commented that Ruth Arnon, a delegation member and president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, developed the drug Copaxone, which is used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. President Ma congratulated her for successfully taking basic research in biotechnology and applying it in the field of medicine. President Ma noted that in addition to President Arnon, two other winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – Professor Ada Yonath and Dr. Aaron Ciechanover – were also in the delegation, which was invited by Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University, National Sun Yat-sen University, and Kaohsiung Medical University to attend the conference.
President Ma said that the power derived from knowledge is a major reason that Israel has been able to make a place for itself in the world. In particular, he noted, state-of-the-art research and development is an asset that Israeli people rightfully pride themselves on. According to the World Economic Forum, which ranks nations in a variety of fields, Israel is among the world's top five in the quality of scientific research and development, venture capital availability, patents per capita, technology transfers, and entrepreneurship, the president remarked. This highlights that the spirit of innovation is a source of Israel's power and consistently makes it one of the most competitive countries in the world, he added.
President Ma said that Taiwan and Israel both emphasize the core values of democracy, universal education, research and development, and the pursuit of innovation. The president noted that the two countries established representative offices in 1993, and to date have signed agreements covering economic and trade ties, science and technology, agriculture, aviation safety, customs, the prevention of double taxation, air traffic, and visa-free courtesies. President Ma noted that during the Tenth Taiwan-Israel Economic and Technological Cooperation Conference on December 10 the two sides signed a number of agreements, including the Administrative Directive on Mutual Recognition of Authorized Economic Operators and the Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Environmental Protection. These agreements will make substantive cooperation between the two sides more comprehensive, he remarked.
Lastly, the president expressed hope that this visit to Taiwan by the Israeli delegation will help to bolster bilateral ties in culture and education and further strengthen contacts and cooperation among think tanks and research institutions from the two countries.