Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Vice President of Nigeria, is visiting Israel on a five-day pilgramige to holy Christian sites

(Communicated by Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

The Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, arrived yesterday on a five-day Christian pilgrimage tour of Israel. Family members and dozens of followers, including many business executives, are in his entourage.

This is Vice President Jonathan’s first visit to Israel. During the visit, he will meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as representatives of the Israeli business sector. The Vice President will visit Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and lay a wreath in the memorial hall, and tour Christian sites in Israel.

Vice President Jonathan was elected to his post in May 2007, alongside President Umaru Yar’adua, after the success of the Democratic People’s Party in the national elections that were held the previous April.

This visit of a senior Nigerian official follows a series of visits of other Nigerian officials, and is an expression of the tightening relations between Israel and Nigeria, a country which is crucial to a wide range of issues on the African continent

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Nigeria were established in the 1960’s, when Nigeria received its independence from Great Britain. Relations were severed in 1973 due to pressure of the Arab League, and were re-convened in 1992. Israel operates an embassy in Abuja; the Nigerian embassy is in Tel Aviv.