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Israel, Germany Reach Out to Africa

Israel and Germany will sign a pact to assist the developing world, starting in Uganda. Chancellor Merkel is to visit Israel this week.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/30/2011, 6:40 PM / Last Update: 1/30/2011, 2:57 PM

Israel and Germany plan to team up to help developing nations. Representatives from both countries will meet Monday to sign a Declaration of Intent; the document will be signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel.

One shared project which Israel and Germany will initiate is the rehabilitation of Lake Victoria. The lake, the largest in Africa, is contaminated and is suffering the effects of pollution.

Ayalon said Sunday that reaching out to poorer countries is in Israel's interest, “Globally, we witness the instability of countries caused by socio-economic disparity. Aid projects with the objective of strengthening the socio-economic status of developing nations have become more important and urgent than ever."

"International aid is one of the most effective diplomatic tools," he continued, "and three-party aid strengthens Israel ’s relations with both the partner and with the recipient country, and allows for the distribution of Israeli technologies and strengthens the country’s socio-economic base.”

Israel has previously been involved in rescue efforts in Haiti, in AIDS prevention in Africa, in providing life-saving surgery to sick children from more than two dozen countries, and in training doctors from around the world to assist in their home countries. Much of Israel's humanitarian effort has been focused closer to home, where Israeli doctors treat tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority Arabs each year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Israel on Monday afternoon, and to meet immediately with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In the evening, she and Netanyahu will hold a joint cabinet meeting, followed by a press conference.

The next day Merkel plans to have breakfast with Israeli business people, then to meet with MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima), head of the Opposition. Later in the day she will meet German volunteers in Jerusalem, and will meet with President Shimon Peres. In the afternoon, Tel Aviv University will present Merkel with an honorary doctorate.