N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Israel confirmed a diplomatic rapprochement with Muslim-majority Chad on Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to the Chadian capital to stress their mutual interest in confronting Islamist insurgencies.
Seeking to rebuild ties with Africa damaged by the occupation of Palestinian territories in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel said in November that diplomatic links with Chad would be revived after President Idriss Deby paid the first official visit to Jerusalem by a Chadian leader.
Speaking at a joint press event, Netanyahu said recent attacks by the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency and a militant attack on a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, last week showed the need to cooperate on security.
“The game is far from lost if we pull together,” Netanyahu said. “We are happy to know that a Muslim-majority country is connected through diplomatic ties to Israel.”
Deby echoed Netanyahu’s call for closer cooperation: “I note with satisfaction our shared view on the need to combine forces to tackle terrorism, which spares no country.”
They said security had been a key topic of discussion during an earlier meeting, but gave no details. Last year a source told Reuters Israel had supplied Chad’s army with weapons and equipment to help fight rebels.
Netanyahu has previously cited Chad’s renewed relationship with his country as an example of how Israel can make diplomatic inroads in Africa and the Middle East despite its conflict with the Palestinians.
(Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by David Holmes)