Israel is preparing for a possible visit by the prime minister of Mali after 50 years in which the two countries have had no diplomatic relations.
No date has yet been set for Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga’s visit, but a senior Malian official who spoke with a reporter from Israel’s public broadcasting corporation, Kan, did not deny the report, saying merely that when Mali had something to announce publicly, it would do so.
Yoram Elron, a senior Foreign Ministry official, told Army Radio on Sunday that Israel “hopes Mali will be the next country with which we renew ties.”
Ten United Nations observers were killed in Mali on Monday when an organization affiliated with Al-Qaida attacked a base in the country’s north, near the Algerian border.
All the people killed were citizens of Chad, and in its statement claiming responsibility, the organization, Nusrat al-Islam, said the attack was in response to Sunday’s renewal of diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Chad on Sunday, the first official visit by an Israeli leader since diplomatic ties were severed in 1972. President Idriss Deby hosted Netanyahu at the presidential place in N’Djamena, and at the end of the meeting said he was pleased to announce the signing of several bilateral agreements, including one on resuming diplomatic relations.
Netanyahu said Israel would support Chad in its battle against terrorism. He added that the resumption of relations was the fruit of years of effort by him, the Mossad and other officials to break down opposition in the Arab and Muslim world, and that “a clear process of normalization” has begun even with several Arab countries, though it is still unofficial and incomplete.
Mali, a majority-Muslim African country, is one of the poorest countries in the world and suffers from terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Its relations with Israel were severed after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 2017, Netanyahu met Mali’s president at a conference of West African states, where the two agreed to discuss renewing the relationship between their countries. According to assessments in Israel, Niger as well might follow in Chad’s footsteps and renew relations with Israel.
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