TEL AVIV (Jan. 25)
President Chaim Herzog was on his way back to Jerusalem today from Monrovia, Liberia, ending a week-long African tour which also took him to Zaire. Liberia and Zaire are the first–and so far the only–Black African nations to resume the diplomatic ties with Israel which they broke during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The trip resulted in strengthening Israel’s commercial as well as diplomatic relations with the two countries. Officials accompanying Herzog signed a number of trade agreements with Zaire and Liberia which call for the marketing of Israeli products in those countries and the dispatch of Israeli experts to advise them on agriculture and in other fields.
WIDE-RANGING AGREEMENT SIGNED
Herzog and President Samuel Doe of Liberia singed a wide-ranging cooperation agreement committing Israel to help Liberia in a number of projects. They include the establishment of a national bank, development of a new electric power network and the construction of 480 kilometers of new highways. In addition, a joint Israeli-Liberian company was set up to develop the rice crop. Liberia hopes eventually to export 100,000 tons of rice a year.
Herzog was the first non-African leader to visit Liberia since Doe, a soldier, seized power in a coup four years ago. Israeli journalists accompanying Herzog reported that the diplomatic community in Monrovia was surprised by Herzog’s visit yesterday to the army barracks where a score of Liberian leaders, including a dozen Cabinet minister, were assassinated in the uprising that brought Doe to power.
Herzog held a press conferece last night in the Liberian capital where he was questioned closely about Israel’s relations with South Africa. Some Black African nations say this is an obstacle to re-establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
Herzog responded by pointing out that Tanzania, Mozambique and other Black nations have much more extensive trade relations with South Africa than Israel. “All I’m asking is that you do not apply one standard to those countries and another standard to a small country called Israel,” he said. He noted that “In total, the arrangements we have with South Africa amount to two-fifths of one percent of South’s foreign trade.”
Herzog’s first order of business when he returns to Jerusalem will be to greet West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl who is on a five-day official visit to Israel.