Edwards leading Louisiana delegation to Israel this month

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that he will travel to Israel later this month on an economic development trip that includes a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Democratic governor said the 24-person delegation will include business leaders and researchers in water management, logistics, higher education, and cybersecurity. The delegation leaves Louisiana on Oct. 26 and returns Nov. 2, visiting both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The governor will meet with Netanyahu and other government leaders in Jerusalem on Oct. 28. That same day, Edwards and his wife Donna will attend a memorial ceremony at the Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Edwards called the trip a great opportunity to meet one of the nation's key allies and speak with other officials and business leaders about possible trade prospects.

"I am looking forward to building a framework for Louisiana to connect with Israel in oil and gas exploration and cybersecurity, as well as other fields, and I want to make it possible for Louisiana companies and organizations to follow up on the inroads we make with this trade mission," the governor said in a statement.

The governor's office highlighted Edwards' position as co-chairman of the National Governors Association's Resource Center for State Cybersecurity, noting that Israel has a high profile in the global cybersecurity industry. The NGA's national cybersecurity conference will be held in the Shreveport/Bossier City area in May 2019.

Edwards' office said the group was invited by Gilad Katz, the consul general of Israel to the Southwest United States. In a statement, Katz said he hoped the visit will "be the springboard to new partnerships and collaborations that will have a lasting impact on both Louisiana and Israel."