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Chad president makes surprise visit to Israel as nations revive diplomatic ties

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Chad President Idriss Deby meets Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. Photo by Heidi levine/UPI
Chad President Idriss Deby meets Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. Photo by Heidi levine/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The leaders of Israel and Chad met for the first time in 46 years Tuesday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they're looking to re-establish diplomatic ties.

Netanyahu met Chad President Idriss Deby at his office in Jerusalem Tuesday.

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Tuesday marked the first time Chad sent its leader to Israel, and the first communication between the nations since 1972. Deby's visit Tuesday was kept secret.

"Today we turn a new page in relations with Chad, and I tell you -- there will be other countries soon," Netanyahu said.

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"The leaders discussed common threats and the fight against terrorism, as well as increasing bilateral cooperation in the areas of agriculture, counter-terrorism, border defense, technology, solar energy, water and health," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

Netanyahu said he led diplomatic efforts to persuade Chad to visit the country. The visit reflects "the rising status of Israel among the nations," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu and Deby first met at the World War I ceremony in Paris this month.

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Next on Israel's list are Sudan and Bahrain, officials said.

The Palestinian Authority has grown concerned as more countries acknowledge Israel. Palestinian officials called for an emergency session of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss Israel's close ties to Arab countries.

"What we have been seeing in recent weeks -- beginning with Netanyahu's visit to Oman and the visit to Israel by the president of Chad, and now there is talk of Bahrain and Sudan and ties of one kind or another with Saudi Arabia -- raises question marks, and there is therefore a need to clarify the Arab and Islamic position," former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath told Haaretz.

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