December 11, 2014
(JUBA) – South Sudan government on Wednesday said it wanted to establish strategic partnership relations with Israel, describing as “historical” its past relations with the latter.
Foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said South Sudan’s relations with Israel started and evolved from sympathy and support for the liberation struggle against successive repressive regimes in neighbouring Sudan, from which the south broke away in July 2011.
“Our relations with Israel are growing well and pointing towards establishing strong partnership on matters which are important for mutual interests and benefits to the citizens from both sides. You know that relations between the people of Israel and South Sudan date backs to the era of Anyanya I [first war]”, said Marial.
He said Israel was one of the few nations that stood by South Sudan during its difficult moments.
“They also stood with us during the second war of liberation struggle,” said Marial.
He added, “So our relations with Israel have always been strong and historical. We are not starting with them from scratch. There have been long ties, which we now want to upgrade to strategic partnership in economic sector and infrastructure, education, mining industry and trade”.
According to Marial, South Sudan government intends to build on the Israeli experience as mechanisms to enhance the country’s food production.
The minister’s remarks came as Ruben Marial Benjamin presented his credential to Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin as South Sudan’s first ambassador to the country. Ruben is the minister’s younger brother.
A former professional basketball player, Reuben arrived in Israel a few weeks back and opened South Sudan’s embassy in the country.
Israeli ties to South Sudan go back to the 1960s, when the former reportedly offered aid and training to rebels fighting the Khartoum regime. It was unsurprising that Israel was among the first nations to recognise South Sudan’s independence in July 2011.
In September 2011, South Sudan president, Salva Kiir and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu met at the sideline of the United Nations general assembly meeting in New York prior to Kiir’s official visit to Tel Aviv three months later.
Since its independence in July 2011, South Sudan has established 26 embassies across the world.