(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres held a working meeting this morning (Wednesday, 28
November 2012) with Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, at the
President's Residence in Jerusalem. President Peres welcomed his guest in an
official state welcome ceremony. This is Togo President Gnassingbe's first
official visit to Israel.
President Peres began by greeting President Gnassingbe and said: "It is a
great honor to host you here in Israel. You represent the young generation, the
future of Africa. The way into future is through the corridor of science and you
face that future. Israel sees great importance in strengthening the strategic
relations with Togo, beyond our diplomatic relations. Togo's development is an
inseparable part of our hope for the entire African continent to be freed from
poverty. A just solution for Africa is necessary for a just world. It will be a
mistake for the entire world if Africa isn't allowed to develop and flourish as
President Peres added that the doors of cooperation are open to Togo and
said, "Israel also started as a country lacking resources, today we are a
successful and developed country. We will do whatever we can to help you, as
friends, according to your priorities. Your visit will strengthen and enrich the
ties between our two countries."
The President of Togo thanked President Peres and stressed that Togo stands
with Israel on the diplomatic front saying that Togo understands the
significance of war and the cost of insecurity. He added that today countries in
Africa feel a friendship towards Israel and Israel's friends are not ashamed to
stand by her side. Togo expresses its support for Israel proudly including at
the UN Security Council, said President Gnassingbe, and further added that Togo
could not forgo its wonderful relationship with Israel, a country that has
flourished in a hostile neighbourhood.
He concluded by thanking President Peres for the warm welcome his entourage
had received in Israel and saying that the world is in a period of transition
from the old generation to the new but that hearing President Peres speak it was
clear that he was from the new generation.
After the joint statements, the two presidents conducted a meeting at which
they discussed strengthening the strategic relations between the Israel and
Togo, the security situation in Israel and the Iranian nuclear threat. The
President of Togo inquired about the situation in Gaza in the days after Operation
Pillar of Defense and asked President Peres how Israel views the current
situation. President Peres responded and said, "Democracy doesn't forbid
self-defense, while Israel protects innocent civilians, Hamas is a terrorist
organization which murders civilians. Israel dealt a harsh blow to Hamas and
will do so again in the future if necessary. Our guiding principle is clear -
quiet will be met with quiet, fire will be met with fire."
The President of Togo also asked for an update on the Iranian issue and
President Peres responded by saying that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran
is a serious threat to the entire world and not only Israel, "Iran is building
long range missiles which can reach all of Europe and beyond. Iran seeks to
secure hegemonic power in the Middle East through violence, terror and
extremism. Iran sends weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and
there is a clear consensus from Russia to the United States of America about the
danger of nuclear weapons in Iranian hands."
During the meeting the two discussed increasing the number of delegations
coming to Israel from Togo for agricultural education, with agriculture being a
key component of the economy in Togo.
President Peres will host a state dinner in honor of the President of Togo at
his residence in Jerusalem tonight. During the meal the two presidents will
deliver speeches to the assembled guests including senior political figures,
diplomats and individuals from the economic, academic and cultural spheres.