Israel Grants Zaire’s Mobutu Easy Credit For Weapons Purchases
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel granted President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire easy credit for arms purchases and signed an accord guaranteeing investments by Israelis and non- Israeli Jews in Zaire, a senior Israeli official said Friday.
Mobutu ended a six-day visit Friday praising the ″depth of friendship″ between Israel and his central African nation, but said he would not try to persuade other African countries to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
″I cannot do Israel’s work. You have a head of state and a government to do that,″ he said in a news conference at Ben Gurion Airport.
The Israeli official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said Mobutu was more encouraging in private talks about coaxing other countries to resume relations.
″I have no doubt this visit has opened new avenues for Israel in Africa,″ President Chaim Herzog said, declining to be more specific.
Only Zaire and Liberia have renewed ties with Israel since the 1973 Arab- Israeli war, which led 29 African nations to break relations with the Jewish state.
Israel has said four other African nations are on the verge of renewing ties with Israel - Ivory Coast, Gabon, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
The Israeli official said Israel agreed to easy arms credit for Zaire in line with a 1981 pledge made by Ariel Sharon, at that time Israel’s defense minister, during a secret visit to Kinshasa, Zaire’s capital.
The official said Sharon promised to match Zaire’s cash purchases with an equal amount of credit in an inducement to resume relations.
Mobutu resumed ties with Israel in 1982. He later accused Israel of backing out of the deal by demanding commercial credit terms, the official said.
He said Mobutu ″got what he wanted″ during the visit, but no new contracts were signed.
Israel refuses to disclose the extent of its military involvement in Zaire. Zaire gets arms from Israel, Belgium, France, China and the United States.
The official said Israel also agreed to guarantee investments in Zaire by Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.Details of the accord remained secret at Mobutu’s request.
The insurance would protect businessmen from coups or other political developments but would not underwrite normal business losses, the officials said.
He said it was the first time any nation had offered investment guarantees outside its borders for businessmen other than its own citizens.