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November 25, 2018 11:52 am

At Meeting With Chadian Leader, Israel’s Netanyahu Says Ties With Africa ‘Flourishing Again’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) prepares to shake hands with Chadian President Idriss Deby as they deliver joint statements in Jerusalem, Nov. 25, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday in Jerusalem with Chadian President Idriss Deby — who was making the first-ever visit to the Jewish state by a leader of the Muslim-majority central African nation.

“Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with Deby.

“Israel has worked with all the African countries on agriculture and water,” the prime minister noted. “This was discontinued. Now it’s flourishing again.”

Deby said, “This visit will open a new page, a new way and will give us the opportunity to express our great appreciation to the efforts you’re making to bring our two countries closer together.”

Citing Chadian government sources, Reuters reported that security was at the top of Deby’s agenda. Israel, Reuters said, has supplied the Chadian military — which has been battling rebels in the northern part of the country — with weapons and other equipment this year.

Later on Sunday, Deby also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and dined with Netanyahu.

Chad severed relations with Israel in 1972. In 2016, then-Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold traveled to Chad and met with Deby, prompting reports the two countries might be on the verge of restoring ties.

Ahead of Deby’s arrival in Israel on Sunday, Netanyahu said, “This is an additional diplomatic breakthrough. This is an historic and important visit that comes against the background of the efforts we have led.”

Daniel Shapiro — who served as the US ambassador to Israel during most of the Obama administration — tweeted, “Another important diplomatic breakthrough for Israel. Netanyahu continues to successfully open doors that were previously closed.”

Last month, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister in more than two decades to visit the Gulf state of Oman.

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