Liberia to Renew Its Diplomatic Ties with Israel

Liberia has decided to renew its diplomatic relations with Israel, it was announced in Monrovia, the nation’s capital, last night. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir expressed Israel’s warm gratification at this development and expressed the hope that many other African states would follow Liberia’s example.

Liberia is the second state — after Zaire last May — to renew ties with Israel. Most African countries severed diplomatic relations at the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Following the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai, there has been a discernible movement among many African states in the direction of restoring full relations with Israel.

Israeli sources are reluctant to specify which African countries are regarded as “in line” to follow in the footsteps of Zaire and Liberia — apparently for fear of dislocating delicate contacts that are underway.

Israeli sources said Liberia’s decision had come after long hesitation and in the face of Arab pressure. There had been many contacts between Israel and Liberia, including a recent visit here by the Liberian Defense Minister during which he reportedly conferred with Premier Menachem Begin.

Israel has not maintained an interest section in a foreign Embassy in Monrovia (as it does in a number of other African capitals). But ties have been kept up through the Israeli interest section in neighboring Ivory Coast and there have been numerous official visits in both directions in recent months — carried through with discretion.

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