- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii and the Indonesian province of Bali on Monday took a step toward forging closer ties by becoming sister states.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed documents establishing the relationship in his chambers at the state Capitol on Monday, saying both places are often defined by the joy they give to visiting travelers.

“Bali, of course, is as Hawaii is, famous for its hospitality,” Abercrombie said. He highlighted other parallels between the two, including their respective histories as independent kingdoms.

The governor signed two versions of the documents, one in English and another in Indonesian. They had already been signed by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika.

Indonesia’s consul general in Los Angeles, Hadi Martono, represented Bali at the ceremony. He said he was confident the agreement would lead to “a better Hawaii and a better Bali” as the two worked together in areas of tourism, investment and agriculture.

A reception featuring hula and Balinese dance followed.

State Rep. Gene Ward, who spearheaded the sister state relationship, said it was a “special day.”

“Because, look, these are the two most beautiful places in the world,” Ward said.

Bali is Indonesia’s smallest province and has a population of 4.22 million. Hawaii is the only U.S. state consisting solely of islands. Its population numbers 1.4 million.

Hawaii forms “sibling” ties with other parts of the world when there’s evidence of substantial grassroots support, potential for expanding exchanges and both sides are expected to benefit economically.

The state says relationships like these raise Hawaii’s profile around the world and stimulate Hawaii’s economy.

Hawaii has 15 other sister state relationships, including five with provinces in the Philippines and four with Japanese prefectures.

Two Hawaii sister states are in China. Morocco, Portugal, South Korea and Taiwan each have one Hawaii sister state.

Fukuoka prefecture in Japan was the first to become a sister state of Hawaii, in 1981.