(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 it should."
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.