Peres is Cameroon-bound

Premier Shimon Peres will be in Cameroon Monday and Tuesday for a “friendship and working” visit, it was officially announced last Friday here and in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Peres was invited by President Paul Biya.

During the visit, Biya is scheduled to announce the resumption of full diplomatic relations between the two countries. Cameroon served its relations with Israel in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War and threats by Arab countries.

Cameroon will be the fourth Black African country to resume diplomatic relations with Israel in the past three years, preceded by Liberia (1983), Zaire (1984), and Ivory Coast, which announced resumption of relations last January. Ivory Coast, however, has yet to send its Ambassador to Israel.

Israel presently maintains embassies in Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho–the three which did not sever contacts with Israel. In addition, Israeli diplomatic representatives have been attached to Embassies of other states in Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Togo, and Cameroon.

PURPOSE OF PERES’ VISIT

The purpose of Peres’ visit to Cameroon was described by political sources in Jerusalem as an attempt to warm up the ties between Israel and Black Africa. Many African countries have recently expressed their readiness to strengthen ties with Israel.

The turnaround followed the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt, a member of the Organization of African States, in 1982. One problem which casts a shadow over those ties is the close relationship between Israel and South Africa.

Accompanying Peres will be the Directors-General of the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, David Kimche and Avraham Tamir. Kimche has been especially active in recent years in efforts to improve relations with Africa.

Also in the Israeli delegation will be a number of industrialists and business representatives, among them Arnon Tiberg, Director-General of the Chambers of Commerce Association, and the Directors-General of the Israeli companies Solel Boneh and Koor-Africa.

Their inclusion in the Yaounde meetings reflects the large degree of Israeli economic involvement in Cameroon, and Israel’s interest in expanding that activity.

Cameroon is considered an economic success story. Oil profits have been used for investments in industry and agriculture, and the country has a high rating with the International Monetary Fund for its economic performance.

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