Elia Dimo, a senior official in the newly formed country of South Sudan, declared on Monday his country’s loyalty to Israel and the Jewish people.

Dimo, who runs a pro-Israel Facebook group, is a founding member of South Sudan’s new military. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 on Monday, he said: “As far as we’re concerned, Israel is a friendly country and we love the people of Israel. We believe they are the Chosen People and we pray for them. We love them and want to have a strong relationship with them.”

Dimo’s words echo sentiments previously expressed by the new country’s leaders. During an informal meeting in London last February, South Sudan showed an interest in forging diplomatic and economic ties with Israel. Members of a diplomatic mission from the African country met Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara and extended an invitation to him to visit Juba.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel recognizes the newly declared country.

“Yesterday, a new state was born, South Sudan,” he said at the weekly Cabinet meeting. “I hereby announce that Israel recognizes the Republic of South Sudan. We wish it success. This is a peace-seeking country and we would be pleased to cooperate with it in order to ensure its development and its prosperity. Greetings to South Sudan.”

As well, IsraAID, The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, has promised to provide the new country with humanitarian aid. The project will be funded in part by The Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, AJC and other agencies.

A humanitarian aid cargo is already being put together as a goodwill gesture between the two peoples, but the IsraAID team intends to take it further.