12 July 2019

Rwanda: Netanyahu Special Envoy Meets Rwandan Officials

Photo: New Times
Meir Ben-Shabbat, the special envoy of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Paul Kagame.

Meir Ben-Shabbat, the special envoy of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was in Rwanda on Wednesday where he held high-level dialogue with President Paul Kagame, cabinet ministers, heads of security organs, and the military top brass.

Meir Ben-Shabbat is the Director of the Israel National Security Council.

Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, Ron Adam, told The New Times in a phone interview on Thursday that the envoy was in Rwanda on a one-day mission initiated by his Premier Netanyahu.

"Meir Ben-Shabbat returned to Israel after holding a series of political meetings with different officials here. He does much more than security advisory, and he was here as the special envoy of the Prime Minister," he said.

"We talked a lot about the private sector, how to increase financing, and the potential of having RwandAir operating cargo services," he noted.

According to the envoy, the conversations also focused on agriculture, especially water management, smart agriculture, and capacity building. Discussions also covered innovation, cyber security, tourism as well as aviation.

This is the second high-level official visit by an Israeli official since the country opened its residence embassy in Rwanda.

It follows the visit of Yuval Rotem, the Director General of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was in Rwanda in April.

According to Adam, Ben-Shabbat's visit was generally intended to promote a full range of relations between Israel and Rwanda and the cooperation between Israel and the African continent.

There were tangible results, Adam said.

"We decided that ministries will come up with action plans to give us a way to proceed. There will be a follow up mechanism. After the meeting, we also agreed that a delegation of Israel business people will visit Rwanda to explore investment opportunities," he noted.

The diplomat also revealed that the Government of Israel extended "immediate invitation" to the Minister for ICT and Innovation to visit the country's mission cyber programme, and the Space Agency and Innovation Authority.

"There is potential for collaboration in cyber space," he said.

The visit comes shortly after the national carrier, RwandAir, inaugurated direct flights between Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel capital Tel Aviv, and the Kigali International Airport.

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