…Asks Buhari to visit Israel too

The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Shimon Ben-Shosan, said on Thursday that his Prime Minister, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, and the President, Mr Reuvin Rivlin, could visit Nigeria soon, 61 years after an Israeli PM came to Nigeria in 1958.

Ben-Shosan also said Israel would want President Muhammed Buhari to pay a visit to the country, saying that such visits from the topmost political leaders on both sides would be “historic.”

He spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he presented his Letters of Credence to the Nigerian President.

Buhari had already invited Netanyahu to attend Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebrations coming up on June 12.

The ambassador did not say whether Netanyahu would honour the invitation, but he spoke of the many years of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel.

He said, ‘‘Next year will be 60 years of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Israel, and the last time a Prime Minister of Israel visited Nigeria was in 1958.

‘‘My dream is to bring my Prime Minister and President to visit Nigeria and for President Buhari to visit Israel.

“That will be historic for us.”

A State House statement released by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari, while receiving the envoy, acknowledged the diversity of Nigeria as being the “strength for the development of the country.”

The statement added, “The President said Nigeria and Israel have enjoyed cordial bilateral relations, highlighting that many Nigerian Christians look forward to performing pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Israel.”

He congratulated Ben-Shosan on his appointment, urging him to go ground the country and appreciate its beauty.

The Sierra Leonean High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Solomon Gembeh, also presented his Letters of Credence to Buhari.

The Presidency stated further, “Receiving the Letters of Credence of the Sierra Leonean High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Solomon Gembeh, President Buhari said both countries have a strong and stable relationship borne out of shared history and decades of cooperation.

“President Buhari said he looked forward to continuing working with President Julius Maada Bio to further strengthen the relations between both countries, emphasising that both of them shared a common historical background as former military Heads of State who later became civilian President.

“The President lauded the resilience of the Sierra Leonean people in overcoming the tragedy of the 2017 mudslide in the West African country.

“The Sierra Leonean High Commissioner thanked Nigeria for its steadfast brotherly support to his country, saying ‘during ECOMOG, Nigerian soldiers bled and died for us.’”

The envoy praised Nigeria’s support for his country during the Ebola crisis, saying, ‘‘During the Ebola crisis, the mudslide, you have always been there for us. Nigeria has always been a big brother to us.”

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