Indonesian officials make rare visit to Israel on COVID-19

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JERUSALEM (AP) — A delegation of Indonesian officials made a rare visit to Israel recently to discuss coronavirus strategies, despite the countries not having diplomatic relations, Israel's Army Radio reported Monday.

The Indonesian health officials aimed “to learn how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic” and met with Israeli officials, the report said, without specifying when it occurred.

The Indonesian government denied the visit had taken place.

Israel's Foreign Ministry would not confirm the report, but said that Israel “believes in international cooperation in every regard to the fight against the coronavirus" and is prepared to share information and experience.

Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations, but for years there have been back-channel overtures to establish official ties. Indonesia has refused to normalize relations with Israel until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinians.

Last month during a visit to Jakarta, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly discussed with Indonesian officials the normalization of ties with Israel.

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