Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosted Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema for a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Hichilema is in Israel for a three-day visit at Herzog's invitation. The Zambian president is accompanied by his wife Mutinta and a delegation of senior Zambian government members.
During his visit, Hichilema visited the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall at the Temple Mount. He also visited several Christian sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Herzog welcomed Hichilema with an official ceremony attended by an Israel Defense Forces Honor Guard, where both countries' national anthems were played.
The two presidents held a private meeting before convening a broader diplomatic meeting.
Herzog spoke about the “outstanding” relationship between Israel and Zambia and called for ties to be expanded.
“Zambia is a great country with which Israel has enjoyed outstanding relations for many years,” Herzog said at the ceremony.
“We believe in this cooperation and in the economic advancement of our relations. There are so many things we can share in technology, agriculture, science, health and so many other issues,” Herzog continued.
Hichilema also praised the relationship between the two nations, thanking Israel "for many things" it has done on behalf of the people of Zambia. The president said he has personally benefited from Israel's investments in the Zambian educational system.
“Your Excellency, as Zambia, we are grateful for many things that your country has done and continues doing for us. I am a beneficiary of the Israeli education sponsorship at the undergraduate level,” Hichilema said.
The Zambian president also praised “Israel’s tremendous experience in technology in agriculture, health and water and other areas.”
Herzog made note of Hichilema’s faith as a Seventh-Day Adventist. During their visit together, Herzog called attention to the Sabbath, Judaism's day of rest on the seventh day of the week, as one of the greatest gifts to humanity.
“The Sabbath is one of the greatest gifts of the people of the book to humanity. You lit a candle, and we lit a candle as well,” Herzog said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met on Monday with his counterpart, Zambian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stanley Kakubo. They signed a General Framework of Agreement on cooperation between the two nations.
“Africa is blossoming and so is the potential for relations between Israel and countries on the continent,” said Cohen, adding that “Zambia is an important nation for Israel in Africa, which is interested in strengthening relations with us.”
The Zambia–Israel agreement covers the medical, communications, cultural and agricultural sectors.
Cohen has met with several African leaders in the last month, including the president and the foreign minister of Ghana, the foreign minister of Ivory Coast, and a senior official of an African Muslim nation that currently has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
Israel views the development of relations with African nations as playing a vital role in countering Iranian influence on the continent.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.