Vietnamese envoy and Peres 370.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Five new ambassadors to Israel presented their credentials to President Shimon
Peres on Thursday.
The five were Ta Duy Chinh of Vietnam; Sarath Devesena
Wijesinghe of Sri Lanka; Sisa Ngombane of South Africa; Jorge Montero Figueroa
of Chile; and Mary Mildred Zambezi of Zambia.
Of the five, Zambezi, who
works out of Nairobi, is the only one who is a non-resident, but she previously
visited Israel as part of a delegation in 1993, and told Peres that now she felt
she had come home. Zambia is scheduled to open an embassy in Israel within the
next few months.
Two of the other new ambassadors – those from Sri Lanka
and Chile – had met Peres on previous occasions.
accompanied Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris to a meeting with
Peres earlier in the week; and Figueroa had been the deputy chief of protocol of
the Chilean Foreign Ministry when Peres visited there in 1994 as foreign
In his conversation with Figueroa, Peres noted the cordial
relations between Chile’s Jewish and Arab communities and suggested that Chile
send representatives of these communities to the Middle East as “exports for
Both Peres and Ta Duy referred to the president’s November 2011
visit to Vietnam, and Peres apprised Ta Duy of a little known piece of
historical trivia: David Ben-Gurion met Ho Chi Minh when they were seeking
independence from the British and French, respectively. Ho, Peres said, offered
Ben-Gurion the opportunity to set up a government in exile in Vietnam, but
Ben-Gurion politely declined.
In his discussion with Ngombane, Peres
expressed concern for the health of former South African president Nelson
Mandela, and was assured that he was on the mend.
South Africa on what he called “a double exodus” first from colonialism and then
“What Mandela did was unbelievable,” said Peres as he
marveled over the “unmatched” and “unprecedented” ability of South Africans to
forgive to the extent that they have done.
When Ngombane spoke he touched
on South Africa’s foreign policy vis a vis Israel, and instead of using his own
words, read aloud a statement by Israeli historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer, who
believes that Israel should return to the pre-1967 lines with some territorial
Citing South Africa’s political achievements that could be
mirrored in this part of the world, Ngombane said: “We have traveled a long road
towards reconciliation, and we know it’s not easy, but this great country