World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Kenyan officials are expected to sign a deal next week allowing the resumption of direct flights between the two countries after a 12-year hiatus following an attack on an Israeli plane in the coastal city of Mombasa.
"He [Lieberman] is expected in Kenya next Wednesday," Deputy Israeli Ambassador to Kenya Yaki Lopez told Anadolu Agency.
"He will sign different business deals with Kenya, among them a deal expected to unlock direct flights between Tel Aviv and Nairobi," he said.
"This line had been severed in 2002 when terrorists in Mombasa attacked an Israeli-owned hotel and also a failed attempt at shooting down a passenger plane belonging to Israel," he explained.
The attack on Mombasa's Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel left 18 people, including three Israelis, dead and 80 wounded.
Almost simultaneously, two missiles were fired at an Israeli passenger plane taking off from Mombasa's Moi International Airport. The plane was not hit and preceded safely to Tel Aviv.
Lopez said the planned deal will allow Kenya to resume direct flights to Israel, which, he expects, will resume by the end of the year.
"These things take time, coordination and arrangements to get all the clearances from the civil aviation here in Kenya and in Israel," he noted.
"The process will take some time to go through."
The diplomat said the discussions are currently about resuming direct flights between Nairobi and Tel Aviv, not Mombasa.
"But in the future if there is a demand, then maybe there is something that can be discussed, but it's not something that will be discussed at the moment," he added.
The deputy ambassador said Lieberman's visit was part of a multi-leg, ten-day Africa tour that began with Rwanda.
Lopez said the foreign minister would travel from Rwanda to Ivory Coast.
"He will then go to Ghana and Ethiopia before finishing his journey here in Kenya," he added.
Deputy Ambassador Lopez said the Israeli foreign minister would hold talks with top Kenyan officials.
"Lieberman will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed," he told AA.
"He will also meet with other ministers in Kenya," added the diplomat.
Kenya's tourism sector is expected to benefit from the improved business partnerships that Israel will have with the country.
Kenya will also bring in foreign currency from tourism, as tourists are expected to visit the country in droves.
"The FM is travelling with 50 representatives from businesses and companies in Israel, this is a clear indication that once this route opens, Kenya is set to conduct business directly with Israel," said Lopez.
"We always receive requests from businessmen at the embassy wishing to conduct business in Kenya," he added.
"This is also clear proof that Israel can't wait to start dealing with Kenya directly," said Lopez. "This will ease the costs required to do business and also save time."
Lieberman will also officially open a children's cancer ward that was renovated by the Israeli embassy.
Lopez said helping Kenya combat "terrorism" was also on the foreign minister's agenda.
Last Mod: 12 Haziran 2014, 14:48