Historic agreement for Israel, Germany

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Israel and Germany strengthened their ties on Monday in one of the highlights of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's three-day visit to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation.

Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chaired a joint session of members of the two countries' Cabinets, at which both governments signed off on a range of projects, including in education, the environment and defense.

The two sides agreed to hold such meetings once a year, alternating as hosts.

Germany already has similar arrangements with France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Russia, but it was the first time Israel had entered into such an agreement since it formed diplomatic ties in 1965.

At a joint news conference, Olmert praised Germany's friendship -- it is one of Israel's strongest allies in Europe and its second biggest trading partner, after the U.S.

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