by Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Israel and the mostly Muslim nation of Guinea severed ties in 1967 • Renewal of relations is part of a larger Israeli effort to improve ties with African countries • Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold: Israel and Guinea are age-old friends.
Israel said Wednesday it has renewed diplomatic ties with the largely Muslim African country of Guinea, the latest step in Israel's courtship of the continent, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected another nation to soon follow suit. Many anticipate Chad to be the still unnamed country.
The news comes after Netanyahu's four-nation Africa tour this month. It was the first visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting Israeli prime minister in nearly three decades.
Netanyahu addressed budding relations with Africa on a visit to southern Israel. "During my visit to Africa, I told you that another country that we didn't have ties with would soon announce a renewal of ties, and indeed that happened today with Guinea," he said. "In the coming days, I believe another country will be added as well. This is part of a process that is gaining momentum, and it is very important. It is opening Israel up to Africa, and it, of course, helps us in other aspects too."
Israel's ties with Guinea, a Muslim majority country, were severed in 1967. Forty-nine years later, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold signed the renewal agreement in Paris with Chief of Staff of the Guinean President's Office Ibrahim Khalil Kaba.
Gold said Wednesday, "Israel calls on countries that have not yet renewed diplomatic relations to follow in Guinea's footsteps, so that we can work together for the benefit of all peoples in the region. The number of countries in Africa that still haven't done so is getting smaller, and we hope that soon there will not be any."
Gold added that "Guinea and Israel are countries between which there is an age-old friendship, which also existed during the years without diplomatic relations. Israel is proud to have taken part in the international effort to eradicate the Ebola virus that also hit Guinea. Our participation in the U.N. Secretary-General's fund and our contribution of the mobile clinic are testimony to that friendship. Israel is prepared to share its experience and capability to help with Guinea's development needs in a wide range of fields, such as, agriculture, water management and homeland defense."
Gold stressed that the renewal of relations followed Netanyahu's decision to improve diplomatic, economic and security ties with Africa. "The visit expresses Israel's commitment to the continent and the recognition of African countries and of Israel regarding the need to join hands and fight the challenge of Islamist terrorism, which threatens both the Middle East and Africa," he said.
Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
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