Sharon to Visit Zaire This Week

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon is expected to pay an official visit to Zaire later this week, Kinshasa Radio announced today. According to Zaire sources Sharon will be accompanied by his top military advisor, Maj. Gen. Abraham Tomir and Foreign Ministry aides. He will be the second Israeli Minister to visit Zaire in less than a month. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir visited Kinshasa in November as the guest of President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Western sources believe Sharon’s trip is linked to negotiations on security, defense and agricultural projects. Israeli army personnel have been training a special Zairian crack unit. The Presidential Brigade, since early this year. After the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries last May, additional Israeli army technicians and logistic experts arrived in Kinshasa.

The Israeli press announced at the time of Shamir’s visit that Israel had sold $8 million dollars worth of military equipment to the Zaire and that additional sales were in offing. The Israelis also said Gen. Tamir had prepared a comprehensive strategic plan for Zaire’s defense. It is believed this plan as well as the supply by Israel of additional military equipment will be discussed during Sharon’s trip.

Israeli agricultural experts have also been stationed in Zaire for several years. A dozen are working in the north of the country and about 30 are running the Presidential farm at N’sele which supplies most of the food used by the capital’s growing population.

Sharon’s forthcoming trip to Kinshasa will be his second to that central African country. Last November he paid a secret visit to Zaire during which the groundwork was laid for the resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel.

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