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Netanyahu set for first-ever visit by Israel PM to Chad

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured here at a cabinet meeting on January 6, 2019, is set to visit Chad
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured here at a cabinet meeting on January 6, 2019, is set to visit Chad Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured here at a cabinet meeting on January 6, 2019, is set to visit Chad AFP/File
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Jerusalem (AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will embark upon the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Chad in the coming days as the two countries move to renew diplomatic ties, his office said Thursday.

Netanyahu's trip to the Muslim-majority central African nation on Sunday comes after Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno visited Israel in November.

The prime minister's office had not yet provided further details on the trip, though it was expected to be only a one-day visit.

Israeli media said it would be the first by a premier.

Netanyahu said during Deby's November visit that he intended to announce the resumption of diplomatic ties during an upcoming trip to Chad.

The two leaders at the time declined to comment on whether their talks have included arms deals.

Chadian security sources say the country has acquired Israeli equipment to help battle rebels in the country's north.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State group jihadists.

Pressure from Muslim African nations, accentuated by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, led a number of African states to sever relations with the Jewish state.

But in recent years, Israel has held out the prospect of cooperation in fields ranging from security to technology to agriculture, to improve ties on the continent.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad, a country of some 15 million people, were severed in 1972.

Deby is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.

He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

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