Chad President Idriss Deby addresses the media after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, October 12, 2016.
(photo credit: STEFFI LOOS /REUTERS)
Chad President Idriss Déby will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first-ever visit of the president of that Muslim-majority African country with whom Israel has no relations.
The visit was kept carefully under wraps for days, with Netanyahu's office only announcing it Sunday at noon.
The two men will give a statement to the press, widely expected to be the announcement of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.
“This is another diplomatic breakthrough,” Netanyahu said. “This is a historic and important visit that comes against the background of efforts that we have led. I welcome the president of Chad on his arrival to Israel.”
Since becoming the first Israeli prime minister in July 2016 to visit Africa in some three decades
, Netanyahu has place improved ties with Africa high on the country's diplomatic agenda. Since that visit he has made two other trips to Africa.
Chad – which has found itself on the front lines in the battle against Islamic extremists – severed ties with Israel in 1972 after coming under intense pressure from its Arab neighbors
, Libya and Sudan. Chad is a member of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Contacts with Chad about re-establishing diplomatic ties have been taking place intermittently since then Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold went to the country and met Déby shortly after Netanyahu's visit to Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2016.
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