Five new ambassadors based in Dakar, Senegal, accredited to The Gambia by their various countries, Thursday presented their letters of credence to the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh at State House in Banjul.
The five ambassadors are their Excellences the new Israeli ambassador to The Gambia, Dr. Eli Bentura; the Gabonese ambassador, Guy Blaise Nambowezet; the Indian high commissioner, Paerha Satpathy; Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Pieter Kleiweg Dezwaan; and the Ivorian ambassador, His Excellency General Edward Tiate Kassarate.
First to speak to the State House press corps shortly after presenting his letters of credence to the Gambian leader was the ambassador of Israeli to The Gambia, His Excellency Dr Eli Bentura.
He said: "The day is very special for me as I met the president and we had a very long and fruitful discussion as regardsthe relations between Israel and The Gambia during which he [Jammeh] expressed The Gambia's willingness to deepen the relations with Israel. We also spoke about the possibilities of sending Gambians to train in Israel in different fields more especially in agriculture, education and tourism, among other fields. He also expressed his intention for the Israeli leader to visit The Gambia."
The Israeli top diplomat further disclosed that during their discussion, the Gambian leader mentioned the similarities between Muslims and Jews. "We are brothers of the same family. The values of Islam and Judaism are the same believing in the same God and there is no reason that religion should put us apart," Ambassador Bentura said.
He added: "I found a very friendly and clever president and I really have positive messages to send back home and I look forward to continue this relationship."
Also speaking to reporters shortly after presenting his credentials, Ambassador Blaise Nambowezet said that one important feature of his country's ties with The Gambia is that his country also has a lot of potential for tourism.
His words: "Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about the presentation of my letters of credence to His Excellency the president, accrediting me as ambassador extra-ordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Gabon to the Republic of The Gambia. As you know the relations and cooperation between the two countries can be widened and deepened. This cooperation and relations have already been identified and it is just a matter of widening them.The Gambia is a tourist destination and the experience it has in terms of tourism development can be shared with Gabon to develop its tourism. It has lots of potential for tourist attraction.
"I also want to inform you that Gabon is endowed with lots of natural resources and the fauna and flora of Gabon is diverse and we have experience in the management of such resources. We can help The Gambia in the development of similar resources and we have already committed ourselves to work closely with the Gambian authorities for the development of these sectors."
"Education is a very critical area in the development of any country which the president has also emphasisedduring our discussion," the Indian top diplomat said after presenting his credentials. According to him, during his meeting with the Gambian leader, they talked about the necessity of building the capacity of Gambians.
"We in India know that and recognise that partnership in education is a very important pillar of cooperation. We have more than 50 scholarships for Gambians to study in India in all areas of expertise, ranging from education, telecommunication, medicine, and data interpretations. We are also going to accelerate cooperation with The Gambia in the security sector in the areas of border protection. India is looking at the prospects of donating computers also to schools in The Gambia so that computer education and computer literacy becomes part of the Gambian students' curriculum," he said.
According to The Netherlands top diplomat, The Gambia and the Kingdom of The Netherlands have very rich relations especially in the areas of trade and tourism, thus enabling many Dutch tourists to come to The Gambia on holiday.
"The relations between people of the two countries are very strong with many Dutch supporting foundations in The Gambia. I have discussed with His Excellency, the richness of these relations and the shared values, which are important to The Netherlands. We also discussed about human rights and the Rule of Law and it was a wonderful discussion," he said.
Ambassador Kleiweg Dezwaan assured that he will visit the country frequently to speak to Gambian business people, NGOs and the press and open up other issues, which are also very important to both countries.
The last to present his credentials on Thursday was the Ivorian ambassador, General Edward Tiate Kassarate. He said: "I am very happy to meet His Excellency the president. He is a leader whom I have a great admiration for. Throughout our discussion he never failed to advice me. He has given me a wide spectrum of his vision for Africa and the relations between The Gambia and Ivory Coast.
His wish for The Gambia and the entire African continent is peace. He has vehemently confirmed that The Gambia will not serve as a base for any rebel from Ivory Coast and I also assured him that our discussions are going to be faithfully transmitted to his brother and friend Alassane Drammane Outtara."