Israeli Foreign Ministry: historic Africa-Israel summit in Togo postponed


( Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Africa, for an Israel-Africa Summit in Togo in October, has been postponed.

Israel President Reuven Rivlin and Togo President Faure Gnassingbé in Israel, August, 10 2016. Credit: Mark Neiman via Israel Government Press Office.

“Following the request of the President of Togo and after mutual consultations with the Prime Minister, it has been decided to postpone the holding of the Africa-Israel summit, which was due to take place in Lomé in October, to a mutually agreed upon date,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the decision to postpone was due to the ongoing political instability in Togo.

"The decision was linked to the internal situation in Togo. The situation is seen to be unstable, and they [Togo's presidency] asked to postpone," Nahshon told Al Jazeera.

"It has nothing to do with pressure or threats of boycott. We didn't want to go and place an added burden on Togo."

The landmark visit to Africa by the Israeli leader would have followed Netanyahu’s recent visit to western Africa in June to expand the Jewish state’s ties on that continent, and his historic trip to eastern Africa last year — the first such visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister in 29 years.

The now-delayed conference was slated to include leaders from 25-30 African nations.

“Israel is fully committed to continue its efforts vis-à-vis the African continent,” said the Foreign Ministry’s statement.

Netanyahu was formally invited to the summit during a meeting in January with Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, and in August, Netanyahu hosted Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe for dinner at his Jerusalem residence.

"I dream of Israel's return to Africa and Africa's return to Israel," remarked Gnassingbe at the time.

Several African countries—including Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda— reportedly expressed strong support for the conference, which was expected to focus on security, counter-terrorism, economics and collaboration in the fields of agriculture, health, education and technology.

Posted on September 12, 2017 .