Five ambassadors present credentials to Peres

President welcomes envoys from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Chile and Zambia.

Vietnamese envoy and Peres 370 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
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.
Wijesinghe had 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 minister.
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 peace.”
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.
Peres congratulated South Africa on what he called “a double exodus” first from colonialism and then from apartheid.
“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 exchanges.
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 deserves peace.”