December 20, 2011 (JUBA) — South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayadrit conducted Tuesday a one-day visit to the Jewish state where he met with Israeli president and the prime minister who both pledged to support the new state.
- Israeli President Peres presents an antique menorah to Salva Kiir on Tuesday 20 December 2011 (vosizneias.com)
President Kiir, whose initial official visit to Israel was previously scheduled for 27 December, abruptly arrived at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday morning for meeting with the Israeli officials before continuing his journey to Juba.
The Southern Sudanese leader was returning from the United States of America where he attended an International Engagement Conference organised to introduce the new nation to international donors and investors.
Speaking in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday, a senior official from South Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs said the visit focused mainly on bilateral ties.
"President Kiir visited Israel and met with several government officials including President Shimon Peres."
He also toured the "Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum and Hall of Names in Jerusalem before holding talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak", says the official who requested to remain anonymous.
He said President Kiir was warmly welcomed and accorded full presidential treatment with all his delegation by the Israeli government and assured him that full economic and diplomatic relations would be accorded to South Sudan.
The Israeli government recognised the South Sudan independence 24 hours after its proclamation on 9 July. Also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Kiir in July promising his country’s assistance in areas of infrastructure, communications and agriculture.
Further an Israeli delegation led by Danny Danon, a member of Likud Party and Parliament member was in Juba last August and invited Kiir to visit Israel.
Kiir, at the time, pledged according to Danon, to establish an embassy in Jerusalem, which has a disputed status in the international law and a contentious issue in the peace talks with the Palestinian authority.
The South Sudanese senior diplomat said his government is still mulling the appointment of an ambassador to the Jewish state. He underlined that an act governing diplomatic and consular affairs has just been passed by the National Assembly.
The Israeli President Peres hailed the struggle of South Sudanese for their independence and pledged to support the newly established state.
"Israel has supported, and will continue to support, your country in all areas in order to strengthen and develop it."
"We know that you courageously and wisely struggled against all odds to establish your country and for us, the birth of South Sudan is a milestone in the history of the Middle East and in advancing the values of equality, freedom and striving for peace and good neighborly relations", Peres stressed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with Kiir said a government delegation will visit South Sudan to assess how Israel can help the new country, his office reported.
President Kiir extended an official invitation to Netanyahu to visit South Sudan. The Israeli prime minister is expected to tour a number of countries in East Africa next February.
As the 193rd member of the UN South Sudan will have a vote in the UN General Assembly should the statehood of Palestine be considered again at the global body.