JERUSALEM -- The president of the Central African Republic, Gen. Andre Kolingba, arrived in Israel Sunday for the first visit by the leader of his country since the two nations renewed ties in January.
Kolingba was forced to cancel a visit in May when his airborne plane was denied permission at the last minute to fly over Sudan to Israel.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and President Haim Herzog greeted the African leader in Jerusalem at a ceremony in the Rose Garden outside of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. During his five-day visit, Kolingba expects to meet with Shamir, Herzog and other Israelis and to tour holy and historical sites.
The Central African Republic and most other black African countries severed ties with Israel after the 1973 Middle East war when Israel crossed the Suez Canal into Africa. During the last year, three African countries have renewed diplomatic ties with Israel, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
'It's not a landslide but it's definitely a trend,' the spokesman said. 'We hope many other African countries will follow suit.'
In May, Foreign Minister Moshe Arens and his counterpart from the Central African Republic signed an agreement to promote cooperation in agriculture, trade and tourism.