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Sharon, Mobutu Sign 5-year Development and Arms Aid Accord

January 24, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Defense Minister Ariel Sharon returned Friday from his four-day official visit to Zaire after signing a five-year development and military aid agreement with President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Sharon stressed on his return that there was no danger that Israeli soldiers would become involved in the internal struggles of Zaire or in any wars in Africa. “We hope that by strengthening the forces of President Mobutu it will serve as a deterrent and bring about peace” in Africa, the Defense Minister said.

According to Sharon, Israel’s relations with Zaire have been strengthened greatly since he visited Kinshasa secretly a year ago. Zaire restored diplomatic relations with Israel last year. Sharon said that Zaire has already purchased “millions of dollars worth of military equipment” from Israel “and paid for it promptly.”

But “despite the economic advantage, this is not our main aim,” Sharon said. “Rather, it is the means of strengthening Israel’s foreign standing in the world and bringing it out of isolation.”

Sharon said the weaponry already sold to Zaire was not booty captured during the war in Lebanon last summer but equipment captured in earlier wars and repaired and up-dated for use by the Israel army. According to reporters who accompanied Sharon on his visit, some of the equipment to be supplied by Israel in the future will be captured Soviet weapons and some will be Israel-made weapons. Some of it will be sold and some will be supplied free to Zaire.

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