In historic first, Chad president to visit Israel, focus on security cooperation

Chadian President Idriss Deby will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first such visit by a leader of the central African nation which severed bilateral ties in 1972, Netanyahu’s office said.

“This is the first visit of a Chad president in Israel since the establishment of the state. It follows many diplomatic efforts led by Prime Minister Netanyahu in the last few years,” a statement said.

“The visit is focused on security,” one source told Reuters, adding that Israel has supplied the Chadian army with weaponry and other equipment this year to help in its fight against northern rebels.

The Netanyahu government has been investing in outreach to Africa, where some countries previously warm to Israel have kept their distance under pressure of Muslim countries since the 1967 Six-day war.

In July 2016, Deby hosted the then-director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, for exploratory talks on improving bilateral relations. Gold told Israel Radio on Sunday that his Chadian hosts told him that they had cut off ties 44 years prior under Libyan pressure, a factor removed with the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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Chad is a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa and one of several states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and ISIS terrorists.

Earlier this month, the United States donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Muslim terrorism in the country.