GENEVA (Dec. 18)
Premier Shimon Peres announced here today that lvory Coast will re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel, broken off 12 years ago during the Yom Kippur War.
Peres, who arrived here this morning, made the announcement after a four-hour meeting with President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of lvory Coast. The two leaders issued a joint statement saying, “We have decided to recommend to our governments to re-establish diplomatic relations.” Peres told a press conference later, “I imagine that our government will follow our recommendations.”
Israel has been working strenuously for years to restore relations with the Black African nations that abruptly broke them off in 1973, apparently under Arab pressure. So far it has succeeded with two, Liberia and Zaire, which re-established their ties with Israel last year.
The Israel Premier made his unannounced flight here today especially to meet with Houphouet-Boigny. He was accompanied by David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry. They will return to Israel tonight.
SECRET TRIP TURNS PUBLIC
Uri Savid, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Peres intended to make his meeting with Houphouet-Boigny public only if the outcome was positive. That was the reason for the secrecy surrounding his one-day trip to Geneva.
The 80-year-old African leader announced last October that he planned to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel before his retirement next year. Ivory Coast is one of the richest African states and politically one of the most stable. It now becomes the third of those that broke with Israel to renew ties.
Diplomatic sources here said two others may soon follow suit, Gabon and Cameroon.
Israel presently has diplomatic relations with seven nations on the African continent. These are Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, South Africa, Liberia, Zaire, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland. The latter three, controlled by South Africa, never broke with Israel.