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On Again, off Again: Comoros Says Yes to Relations, No to Ambassadors

An Israeli diplomat here is denying reports that the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros has reneged on an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

“It is important to stress that Comoros President (Said Mohammad) Johar didn’t renege on his signature, and his recognition of Israel remains valid,” said Yitzhak Eldan, Israel’s representative to UNESCO in Paris.

An agreement by the Indian Ocean nation to establish diplomatic relations was signed in Paris on Nov. 10 by Johar and Israel’s ambassador to France, Yehuda Lancry.

But in a statement issued in Paris this week, officials of Comoros said the exchange of ambassadors under the terms of the mutual recognition agreement will occur only after a full Middle East peace is reached, including Israeli agreement with Syria and Lebanon.

According to informed sources her, the decision to hold off on exchanging ambassadors was taken after Arab representatives in Paris pressured Johar in the wake of the agreement.

The Arab League’s smallest member state, Comoros, a former French protectorate, comprises an archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southeastern Africa and has a population of some 420,000, most of whom are Muslims.

The sources added that the delay in exchanging ambassadors will not prevent Israel from sending a commission to Comoros to asses the country’s agricultural needs.

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