President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to Israel to collaborate with his administration to fight against insurgency currently ravaging Nigeria.
Jonathan made the appeal in Israel yesterday while meeting with the Israeli President Shimon Peres. Jonathan is currently in Israel for pilgrimage and official visit.
Jonathan's spokesman Reuben Abati in a statement last night quoted him as pledging that his administration would continue to actively combat the menace of terrorism in partnership with all peace-loving countries of the world.
"Combating the menace of terrorism is a challenge that we must address in partnership with all peace loving countries and peoples of the world. I seek the cooperation of your country to confront the security threat from terrorist groups that my country is now facing. There is no doubt that Israel has had decades of experience in combating terrorism. Nigeria can benefit tremendously from your experience in this area," Jonathan told the Israeli president.
Jonathan, who acknowledged the growing economic relations between Nigeria and Israel, urged greater collaboration between them in other sectors, saying that his administration would also welcome the greater deployment of Israel's expertise in furtherance of Nigeria's agenda for national transformation in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, electric power supply and the management of water resources.
He said the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between both nations would undoubtedly boost such relations.
In his remarks at the meeting, Peres, according to Abati, said he was delighted and privileged to have had the opportunity of hosting "the first Nigerian President to visit the state of Israel".
"You are a most distinguished pilgrim. In recent years, our relations have extended to many other spheres, and are steadily growing. The relations between Nigeria and Israel are close and long-standing. They are based upon friendship and the shared values of freedom, democracy and faith. Today, we also face common menaces. Nigeria and Israel have been steadfast partners in combating terror groups such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Boko Haram which threaten the regional stability in Western Africa and in the Middle East.
"I know that one of highlights of your trip was the signing of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Israel and Nigeria. You are a leader who opens the skies for the horizons of tomorrow. Hand in hand, let us soar along the runway of progress and freedom towards a brighter future," Abati quoted Peres as telling Jonathan.
Abati said the BASA was later signed on Nigeria's behalf by the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Prof. Viola Onwuliri.
According to him, Jonathan met earlier in the day with Israel's Minister of Defence, Mr. Moshe Ya'alon. He also visited the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance and lit a flame in honor of the dead.
The President is scheduled to meet with Israel's Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu later this evening and will visit the West Bank tomorrow for a scheduled meeting with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas," Abati added.