|HUD No. 00-146|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Friday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||June 23, 2000|
CUOMO MEETS BARAK, CABINET MINISTERS DURING MIDDLE EAST VISIT
TEL AVIV - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who was sent to Israel by President Clinton, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak today to discuss a range of topics, including the peace process and the new Binational Commission on Housing and Community Development.
Cuomo also met with two Cabinet Ministers whose portfolios overlap with his duties as head of HUD - Regional Cooperation Minister Shimon Peres and Interior Minister Natan Sharansky.
Cuomo and Peres discussed ways for HUD to work with the Shimon Peres Center for Peace. With Sharansky, Cuomo discussed the establishment of a binational project for urban development. The project would create "sister city" relationships between the United States and Israel to help develop more productive cooperation between the Israeli federal government and local governments in Israel.
Cuomo reiterated the United States’ commitment to the peace process to Barak, and both discussed the importance of peace to improving the everyday lives of Israelis.
"Prime Minister Barak’s commitment to ensuring a lasting peace for Israel is unwavering," Cuomo said. "This commitment promises to pay enormous dividends to the people of Israel. The benefits of peace are not just what is written on paper, but what stability also means for many of the challenges facing Israel, such as the need for more jobs and more affordable housing."
Cuomo and Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Levi signed an understanding Thursday creating the Binational Commission on Housing and Community Development., which is the first of its kind between the United States and Israel.
"This new Commission will strengthen ties between the United States and Israel and further the efforts of each country to meet the housing needs of our people," Cuomo said. "This is good news for both Israelis and Americans."
The Binational Commission will bring American and Israeli experts together to learn from each other and to develop new ideas and projects that can be used to benefit both countries. Exchange visits will begin in July, when HUD will host a study tour that will take officials from the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry, the Israeli Finance Ministry and "Amidar" – Israel’s largest public housing company – to several American cities to learn more about housing finance, public housing management, and building technologies.
Cuomo began his day today with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum and memorial in Jerusalem. The Secretary laid a wreath and added fire to the Eternal Flame.
Cuomo later laid a wreath in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, in memory of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In addition, the Secretary planted four trees at American Independence Park in Jerusalem in honor of his wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, and their three daughters – Mariah, Cara and Michaela. The trees were planted in a grove named after the Secretary’s parents – Governor Mario Cuomo and Matilda Cuomo – and the late Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz and his wife of New York.