Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN
Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he will travel to Chad soon to announce the re-establishment of diplomatic ties after a first-ever visit by the central African nation’s president.

Netanyahu held a second meeting with Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno on Tuesday before his departure. The two leaders held a first meeting after Deby’s arrival on Sunday and security issues were expected to be high on the agenda.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said he will travel to Chad soon and make a joint announcement with Deby on the resumption of diplomatic relations after a decades-long rupture. It did not specify a date.

“The leaders discussed common threats and the fight against terrorism, as well as increasing bilateral co-operation” in areas including agriculture, counterterrorism, technology, solar energy, water and health, the statement said.

Both leaders called the visit “historic” as they met in Jerusalem on Sunday, with Netanyahu’s office describing the trip by the leader of the Muslim-majority nation as the result of hard-won diplomatic efforts.

The two leaders have declined to comment on whether their talks have included arms deals.

Chadian security sources say the country has acquired Israeli equipment to help battle rebels in the country’s north.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists.

Pressure from Muslim African nations, accentuated by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, led a number of African states to sever relations with the Jewish state.

But in recent years, Israel has held out the prospect of co-operation in fields ranging from security to technology and  agriculture, to improve ties with the continent.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad, a country of about 15-million people, were severed in 1972.

Deby is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016. — AFP