Israeli Ambassador to trigger PM visit to Nigeria after 61 years

By Shola Abayomi.

61 years since an Israeli Prime Minister last visited Nigeria in 1958, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Shimon Ben-Shosan, has expressed optimism that his Prime Minister, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, and the President, Mr Reuvin Rivlin, could visit Nigeria soon.

Speaking yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he presented his Letters of Credence to President Muhammed Buhari, the ambassador also reiterated the Israeli government’s interest in hosting President Buhari in their country, hinting that such visits from both leaders would be historic.

As part of the foreign invitees beckoned by the president to grace Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebrations on June 12, President Buhari had already invited the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to attend.

However, the ambassador did not disclose whether the Israeli PM would honour the invitation, but he hailed 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.”

President Buhari through a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said “Nigeria and Israel have enjoyed cordial bilateral relations, as 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 round the country and appreciate its beauty.

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