Israel Welcomes President of Central African Republic

Gen. Andre Kolingba, president of the Central African Republic, placed a wreath on the tomb of Theodor Herzl here Monday, the second day of a delayed state visit to Israel.

He was also greeted by President Chaim Herzog of Israel, in colorful ceremonies at the Jerusalem Rose Gardens.

Herzog assured his guest that Israel and the Central African Republic are “like old friends who have renewed their friendship.”

The republic recently restored diplomatic relations with Israel, which it and most other black African nations broke after the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a gesture of solidarity with Egypt.

Kolingba has meetings scheduled with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who is also finance minister. Israeli technical aid and private business ventures in the African nation are to be on their agenda.

Kolingba and his 33-member entourage arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, some six weeks late.

Last month, when they set out to fly directly from the capital city of Bangui to Tel Aviv, Sudan refused to allow the presidential plane to enter its airspace. The plane had to return.

The incident led to a rupture of diplomatic relations between Sudan and the Central African Republic. This time Kolingba and his party flew to Israel via Europe.

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