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April 1, 2019 4:16 pm

Israel Opens Embassy in Rwanda, 11th on African Continent

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

The inauguration ceremony of the new Israeli embassy in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, April 1, 2019. Photo: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israel opened an embassy in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Monday.

The embassy “symbolizes the policy of Israel’s return to Africa,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had visited the continent four times in the past three years.

“Rwanda is a true friend of Israel and is one of the mainstays of Israel’s long-standing friendship with the continent,” the Foreign Ministry added. “Like Israel, Rwanda is small country with great capabilities and aspirations. The opening of the embassy reflects the continued strengthening of relations between the two countries and will enable the expansion of cooperation in many fields, including education, women’s empowerment, science and technology, innovation and agriculture.”

Ambassador Ron Adam will serve as Israel’s first permanent envoy to Kigali.

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Israel established diplomatic relations with newly-independent Rwanda in 1962, but those ties were severed following the Yom Kippur War just over a decade later. The relationship was restored after the end of the Rwandan Civil War in 1994.

The inauguration ceremony of the embassy — the Jewish state’s 11th in Africa — was attended by Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem.

While in Kigali, Rotem met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera.

Rotem was also present at the launch on Monday of a “Center of Excellence for Horticultural Development” near the Rwandan capital — a project of MASHAV, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

“I am certain that over the course of the next few years, the establishment of an Israeli embassy in Rwanda will advance our relations with Africa in general and Rwanda in particular to a much higher level,” Rotem said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Rwanda’s flag carrier, RwandAir, will begin direct flights to Israel in the near future.

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