Rwanda is open for business with Israel, the West African nation’s president Paul Kagame said Monday as he met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
“Cooperation between our countries has blossomed in many areas, among them technology, agriculture, and energy, as well as security. We appreciate what Israel has to offer in these and other fields, and we are very happy to be working with you,” said Kagame.
“Rwanda is open for business and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future," Kagame added at a press conference with Netanyahu and Rivlin. “Ever since the Prime Minister’s visit to West Africa last year, Israel has continued to follow through on its commitments and objective of scaling up engagement across Africa this is a very positive trend which can only be welcomed and merits our support.”
Netanyahu, who has made relations with Africa one of his top foreign policy agendas, said Rwanda had been instrumental in helping Israel’s push into the continent.
“I would say you were the indispensable bridge on which we marched to make our return to Africa, step by step, with very sound advice, very, very wise counsel,” Netanyahu said. “I want to thank you Paul for helping Israel,” he added.
Following up on statements during a recent visit to West Africa that it was time for African countries burgeoning relations with Israel to be reflected in international fora, Netanyahu said Rwanda and Kagame had already taken that step.
“We see how you stand up for Israel in international forums, and you already expressed a simple principle that we did, which is that bilateral relationships should be reflected in multilateral forums,” the prime minister said.
Referring to last week’s vote at UNESCO denouncing Israel’s presence in the Old City of Jerusalem as illegal and also registering the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, Netanyahu told Kagame there was still a “dissonance between us and a few other nations.”
“We saw that in the absurd voting in UNESCO … These absurdities still take place in international forums, and they cause damage to those forums,” Netanyahu said. “They cannot change the truth. My hope is that over time, over a decade, this will change in international forums.”
Kagame and Netanyahu later held a working meeting where they discussed the deepening of bilateral cooperation in various fields.