The West African nation of Togo is taking the lead in organizing an Israeli-African “security and development” summit, which it offered to host in its capital next year.
News of the summit first emerged after Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin following his arrival in Jerusalem recently. Netanyahu will attend the proposed forum in Togo, as well as a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria later this year.
A diplomatic source explained that Togo views itself as a good friend of Israel and “wants to become a hub of friendship between West Africa and Israel”. By arranging the summit, Togo will gain “credibility and influence in helping Israel come back to the entire region, not only on the political side, but on the business side as well”, the source added.
“The people of Togo admire what Israel has achieved, an admiration shared by many nations in Africa and around the world,” Gnassingbe said in his meeting with Rivlin. “This is not my first visit to Israel, yet on this trip I have visited a wide range of places across the country. I am moved and inspired anew by your infrastructure, and by the growth that I have seen, and I know that this is not to be taken for granted.”
Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise on the continent, and Jerusalem hopes that increased ties with African nations will lead to a shift in their voting trends at the UN and other global fora, thus improving Israel’s diplomatic standing and reversing what Netanyahu called “the automatic majority against Israel.”