Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe with Peres 370.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
African countries are divided in their opinions of and attitudes toward Israel,
but those that – like Togo – regard the Jewish state as a friend are no longer
afraid to say so publicly, Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe told
President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.
Gnassingbe, who arrived in Israel on
Monday on a four-day state visit, was officially welcomed by Peres in a red
carpet ceremony replete with military honor guard and band on Wednesday morning,
and feted with a state dinner in the evening.
The Togolese president, on
his first visit to Israel, is accompanied by a large delegation of relatives,
ministers, and professionals from the media and business worlds.
arrival, he was briefed by Avi Granot, who heads the Foreign Ministry’s Africa
division, and Daniel Carmon, the head of MASHAV Israel’s Agency for
International Development Cooperation.
On Tuesday, after laying a wreath
at Herzl’s grave, Gnassingbe visited Yad Vashem, while Wednesday was dedicated
to official meetings with Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman, after which Gnassingbe toured the Old City of
On his last day in Israel, the Togolese president was
scheduled to visit a moshav and two kibbutzim, in an effort to see some of
Israel’s agricultural technology at work and get a concept of its training
facilities. In the afternoon, he will meet with businesspeople at the Dan Hotel
in Tel Aviv with the aim of informing them about investment opportunities and
joint ventures in Togo, a regional commercial and trade center.
welcoming Gnassingbe, Peres spoke of the turmoil and transition that is being
experienced in the world today – with the old giving way to the new, and the
older generation moving back to make way for a younger generation of leaders
such as Gnassingbe.
Like Israel, Peres noted, Togo is a country with few
natural resources and in addition to the vicissitudes of nature, it also has to
combat the remnants of colonialism in order to achieve full
The only path for Togo, he said, “is through the scientific
When Israel achieved independence, said Peres, it found itself
in hostile terrain, literally and politically, but was able to flourish thanks
to science, “and Togo can do the same.”
Science, the president noted, is
not just theory, but people who will help Togo in whatever way
“Just tell us what you need,” Peres remarked.
noted that if the president was talking about moving into a scientific era, he
obviously belonged to the new, younger generation.
The Togolese president
said that he had come to learn from a country that has succeeded so well, and
expressed appreciation for the cooperation that Togo has already received from
“Just as Togo can depend on you, you can depend on Togo,” he
said, indicating that Togo will side with Israel at international
“We stand in solidarity with you in the quest for peace,” he