Rwanda's Kagame in Israel hails 'blossoming' cooperation

Picture: AFP
Picture: AFP

Jerusalem - Rwandan President Paul Kagame called for bolstering relations with Israel on Monday during a visit reflecting a warming of ties between the Jewish state and Africa.

In July 2016 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Rwanda as part of a four-nation Africa trade and security tour aimed at boosting ties and in June this year he joined West African leaders at a summit in Liberia.

"Ever since the prime minister's visit to West Africa last year, Israel has continued to follow through on its commitments and objective of scaling up engagement across Africa," Kagame said.

"This is a very positive trend which can only be welcomed and merits our support," he added as he met Israeli Prime Minister Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu at Rivlin's Jerusalem residence.

Kagame said that cooperation between Israel and African nations "has blossomed in many areas," including in technology, agriculture, energy and security.

"We are looking forward to reinforcing our cooperation with Israel on common challenges and issues of mutual interest," he added.

On Monday Netanyahu said the Jewish and Rwandan people share a "great bond".

"We, who witnessed the greatest holocaust in history, you who witnessed perhaps one of the most recent ones, never again," Netanyahu said.

He thanked Kagame for enabling Israel to "return to Africa".

"You were the indispensable bridge on which we marched to make our return to Africa, step by step, with very sound advice, very, very wise counsel," Netanyahu said.

Rivlin said Israel and Rwanda "are two nations who understand the horror of genocide" and who are "working together to solve some of the biggest issues facing humanity: water and food security".

Israel sees African countries as potential allies, particularly at the United Nations and other international bodies, where it is regularly condemned over its occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Rwanda is one of the countries receiving illegal African migrants who are actively encouraged to leave Israel, a move rights activists say can endanger their lives.

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