Menu JTA Search

Mobutu and Herzog Sign Three Cooperation Accords

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko ended the official part of his state visit to Israel today by signing, with President Chaim Herzog, three cooperation accords — in the areas of aviation, investment, and technical training.

Mobutu, who arrived here Sunday at the head of a large delegation, will spend the rest of the week as the private guest of British-Jewish businessman Leon Tamman at Tamman’s recently opened Daniel Towers Hotel at Herzliya. Tamman is said to have business interests in Zaire, and Mobutu and his aides are greatly interested in attracting other Israeli and overseas investors to consider projects in Zaire.

The visiting President was slightly ill yesterday — which prevented him from visiting the holy sites in the Old City and the Hadassah Medical Center in West Jerusalem.

He did, however, attend a working lunch with Premier Shimon Peres, and called at the Knesset where he laid a wreath at the Memorial for Fallen Soldiers and listened to the plenary proceedings.

Speaker Shlomo Hillel, who is a former Israel Ambassador to several African states, praised the guest for his courage in being the first among African countries to reestablish ties with Israel after most of them broke relations in 1973. Mobutu reestablished an Embassy here two years ago.

At a meeting with Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir today, Mobutu said the question was not whether other African states would follow in the footsteps of Zaire (and Liberia) in reestablishing diplomatic ties with Israel — but when.

In reply to the President’s queries regarding how best Israel could aid Zaire, Shamir suggested a medical center in a provincial town, to be funded by the United States’ Agency for International Development and staffed by Israeli medical personnel. Israeli sources said Mobutu had responded enthusiastically to that idea.

The visiting leader also met with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, apparently to discuss the military training aid relationship between the two countries. Rabin declined to tell waiting reporters the details of their conversation. He noted, though, that back in the 1960’s, as Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF, he had played a key role in forging the first links with Zaire.

At that time, Mobutu underwent paratroop training in Israel. He plans during this visit to call at the training ground where he won his coveted IDF red beret and silver paratroop wings.

NEXT STORY