PARIS (Jun. 16)
President Gnassibinge Eyadema of Togo, greeting Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir on his arrival there Monday, expressed gratitude for Israel’s past aid to his country and stressed that all of Africa relies on Israel’s helping hand.
But he struck a controversial political note when he told the Israeli leader that the Palestinian people deserve nationhood and that the Palestine Liberation Organization should participate in an international conference for Middle East peace, according to French press reports from Lome, the Togolese capital.
“The African continent is ravaged by misery and starvation. We count on Israel’s help to overcome these plagues,” Eyadema said. He was referring to the technological and agricultural assistance Israel has rendered to the developing nations of Africa. Togo announced on June 9 that it would resume diplomatic relations with Israel, broken during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It is the fifth of 29 Black African states to do so.
URGES PEACE CONFERENCE
Eyadema was critical of Shamir’s strong opposition to a proposed international peace conference. The press reports from Lome quoted him as saying that “Togo and Africa are in favor of an international conference which will bring peace to the Middle East” and that all the parties concerned “including the PLO should take part in such a meeting.”
He added, “We wish your nation to be recognized by its neighbors and the Palestinian people to be entitled to a nation.”
Shamir received a warm reception in Lome. Israeli flags lined the main streets and flew from official buildings. Shamir is accompanied by Avi Primor, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry, and about a dozen Israeli businessmen and economic experts. He will visit Cameroon and Liberia, both of which have re-established diplomatic ties with Israel, before returning home.