The regional leaders and the Israeli Prime Minister agreed to strengthen cooperation on security
A regional Heads of State and Government Summit on counter terrorism between the State of Israel and Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Sudan and Tanzania, has resolved to enhance efforts to fight and decisively defeat terrorism in all its forms because of the threat it poses to international peace and security.
The Summit that was hosted on Monday by President Yoweri Museveni at State House, Entebbe, coincided with the official visit to Uganda by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and was attended by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia. Tanzania was represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister.
In a joint communiqué issued after the Summit and read by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kuteesa, the regional leaders and the Israeli Prime Minister agreed to strengthen cooperation on security, fight and defeat terrorism and all crimes that are associated with it, including cybercrime.
In his remarks at the closing of the Summit, President Museveni commended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the people of Israel for having stood firm and defended the Israel State and people and also for their contribution to global security throughout all the difficult times.
“I want to thank your founding fathers of the Israeli State for having laid a foundation for the State that has weathered the storm, defended the Jews and contributed to the development of the world,” he said.
“I equally thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for turning the sad moment that happened 40 years ago into a bonding factor with the Eastern and Central African states,” the President said, referring to the earlier function held in remembrance of the rescue mission in 1976 when Israeli commandos rescued Israeli hostages at Old Entebbe Airport.
President Museveni further commended the State of Israel saying Israel was a historical ally of Africa. He revealed that he together with other regional leaders had discussed and affirmed their commitment to working with the State of Israel in fighting global terrorism and strengthening economic cooperation.
The President commended the regional leaders for honouring Uganda by attending the Counter-Terrorism Summit and reiterated Uganda his commitment to fighting terrorism.
Responding to a question on the possible withdrawal of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) from Somalia, President Museveni said that Uganda went to Somalia to support the Transitional Government under the African Union (AU) Mandate and hoped that all stakeholders would work towards building a Somali Army to defend Somalia adding that this has not happened in the 9 years of the presence of UPDF in Somalia.
He noted that although that development has been frustrating Uganda which wanted to be “part of the solution not part of the problem”, Uganda has, however, had fruitful discussions with other players towards the realization of that goal. He affirmed that arrangement will continue for the good of Somalia, the region and for international peace and security.
On his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu described the Summit and his visit as a milestone in the relationship between Israel and the region. He said that Israel is committed to share her wide experience in security and counter-terrorism, agriculture, trade and industry with the African continent.
“I believe in Africa and I believe in our partnership and hope this marks a turning point in our relationship,” he said.
Netanyahu said he is committed to supporting the region with agro-technology to facilitate improved crop and animal yields, encourage Israeli companies to invest in Africa and to engage Israeli allies and partners to join hands in mobilizing resources to support crucial development interventions on the African continent.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current African tour will also take to Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.