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Israel says will renew ties with Chad after presidential visit

FILE PHOTO: Chadian President Idriss Deby attends a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Tuesday that it and Chad would resume relations, severed in 1972, after the central African country’s President Idriss Deby made a surprise visit to Jerusalem this week.

After Deby wound up his two-day visit, Israel said in a statement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would “visit Chad soon and announce, with the Chadian president, the renewal of ties”. No date was given.

Chad is a Muslim-majority country, and most Muslim or Arab countries do not have formal ties with Israel.

Some African countries have kept their distance from Israel since its occupation of the Palestinian territories in the 1967 Middle East war, but the Netanyahu government has been keen to improve relations with the continent.

Some Sunni Muslim countries have also drawn closer to Israel in recent years due to shared concerns about the rise of Shi’ite power Iran.

Meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu and Deby “discussed shared threats and the struggle against terrorism” as well as cooperation in agriculture, solar energy, water security and health, the statement from the Israeli premier’s office said.

Netanyahu has cited Chad’s renewed relationship with his country as an example of how Israel can make diplomatic inroads in Africa and in the Middle East despite its on-going conflict with the Palestinians.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Hugh Lawson