Israel Closing Embassies in Niger, Brazaville Congo

Israel plans to close two of its African Embassies, the one in Niger and the one in Congo-Brazaville as part of a reappraisal of its diplomatic missions abroad, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday. He said Israel will reduce its representation in Niger to the level of non-resident ambassador and in Congo-Brazaville to non-resident charge d’affaires.

Israel’s relations with Niger have been considered fragile since neighboring Chad severed ties with Israel in Nov. after intense pressure from Libya and Saudi Arabia. Niger also is known to be under Arab pressure. Officials in Jerusalem emphasized that the closing of an Embassy did not signify a breach in relations but they refused to explain the move other than attributing it to “budgetary cuts” and to “a general reappraisal of our relations in Africa and around the world.”

Sources here said the radical regime in Congo-Brazaville has long been felt to be inimical, even hostile, toward Israel. They said that if a general reappraisal was planned, the Embassy there would be an obvious candidate for shutdown.

There will be no Daily News Bulletin Monday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day.

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