Israel's Foreign Ministry Head Visited Muslim Nation in Africa Lacking Diplomatic Ties With Israel

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Dore Gold, Israeli Foreign Ministry director general, delivers a speech during a conference about the 2014 Israel-Gaza War, in Jerusalem, June 1, 2015.Credit: AFP

Israel's Foreign Minister Director General Dore Gold paid a rare visit on Monday to a Muslim country in Africa with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, and held meetings with senior officials. It was the first visit by Israeli diplomats to the country.

Gold set out for Africa on Sunday, first visiting Conakry, the capital of Guinea. Gold had met in Paris on July 20, with the chief of staff of the office of Guinea's president, Ibrahim Khalil Kaba, where they signed an agreement renewing diplomatic relations cut after the 1967 Six-Day War. 

The Israeli diplomatic delegation arrived in Conakry from Paris on a private plane that had been leased to continue to the journey from Guinea to the Muslim nation.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that in the course of his visit to Guinea, Gold met with President Alfa Conde, in addition to 10 government ministers, including the foreign minister, and the  ministers of the presidency, defense, development, finance, labor, energy, agriculture, tourism, communications and science.

Gold's trip to Africa was kept confidential for security reasons, mainly due to the visit to the Muslim country.

Due to major security and diplomatic sensitivities, the Foreign Ministry did not issue statement to the media about the visit, and the one to disclose it was Gold, who following his meeting with the Guinean foreign minister, quickly tweeted a picture from the meeting.

Gold and senior Foreign Ministry officials arrived in the capital of the Muslim country late in the morning. Due to the sensitive security situation in the country, the Israelis only stayed in the city for only a few hours and immediately after their meetings hurried back to the airport, where a private plane waited to fly them to Paris.

Despite the partial exposure by Gold's tweet, the portion of the visit that took place in the Muslim country was kept secret, and remained under censorship, which was only partly lifted on Tuesday morning.

Gold's trip was part of a wider diplomatic effort by Israel in Africa in recent months,  the high point of which was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to five countries in East Africa in early July. During the trip, Netanyahu held a summit in Uganda with leaders from seven East African countries.

Several weeks after Netanyahu's African visit, the meeting was held in Paris at which relations with Guinea were reestablished. In addition, Foreign Ministry Director General Gold visited the north central African country of Chad, with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.

About two weeks ago, Netanyahu announced an intention to visit several West African countries by the end of the year, which would include a  summit with leaders of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, known as ECOWAS.

Netanyahu has said that one of the goals of the Israeli diplomatic effort in Africa is to persuade African countries to change their pattern of voting automatically at the United Nations against Israel, and in favor of the Palestinians.

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