The leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo said on Sunday he would appoint an ambassador to Israel after a two-decade gap.
Speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference, President Felix Tshisekedi said he was inspired in part by his Christian faith and thanked US evangelicals for supporting Israel.
"After more than 20 years of inadequate representation, I will name an ambassador in the coming days," he said, according to AFP.
"I invite Israel to raise its diplomatic and economic presence in my country as high as relations can go between our two states and peoples," said Tshisekedi, who took office last year.
"This nation is a source of inspiration," he continued. "It teaches us what man can do in such a short span of time when he has drive, resilience and, especially, divine grace and favor."
Tshisekedi said the ambassador would be posted in Tel Aviv but that a commercial section would be based in Jerusalem.
Tshisekedi also said he would visit Israel this year and was especially interested in science, technology and agriculture investment in his resource-rich but conflict-scarred nation.
Israel had a warm relationship with Mobutu Sese Seko, the US-allied dictator of the nation formerly known as Zaire, who in 1982 broke with most African states to restore relations with the Jewish state.
Relations stagnated as DR Congo descended into war and the last Israeli ambassador in Kinshasa left in 2003.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been seeking to normalize Israel’s relationships around the world and has visited the African continent three times over the past three years in an attempt to promote ties.
Earlier on Sunday at the same conference, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that his country plans on opening a diplomatic mission and an economic office in Jerusalem.
“We’re trying to find the best possible way to do something officially in Jerusalem. We’re going to open very soon not only an office of our chamber of commerce but, together with our chamber of commerce, an official state office in Jerusalem with a Serbian official flag alongside our embassy in Tel Aviv,” he said.
“That’s our way of showing respect to the Jewish people as well,” added the Serbian President.