TEL AVIV – In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the president of Somalia, a Muslim country that does not recognize the State of Israel, a source close to the Somali leader told the Times of Israel.
Even though Somalia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and is a member of the Arab League, some consider President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud a reformer.
A website opposed to Mohamud published a report two weeks ago claiming that Mohamud and three other officials from his regime met in private with the Israeli prime minister in Tel Aviv, a fact that was later confirmed by the Somali source to the Times Of Israel.
He added that there had been a prior meeting in Jerusalem last December with officials from Israel’s Ministry of Economics and more meetings are planned for the near future.
Netanyahu refused to provide a direct answer to the question of whether the meeting took place.
“I can merely say that we have a lot of contacts with countries that we don’t have formal relations with. A lot of contacts,” he told the Times of Israel.
Mohamud was featured on Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013.
“The leader of Somalia’s first constitutional government in 20 years, President Mohamud symbolizes an increasingly confident Africa that is shedding its long history of strife and moving toward greater stability and prosperity,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame wrote at the time.
On Monday, Netanyahu embarked on a series of diplomatic visits to four African nations – Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda – in a bid to seek out new trade partners and strengthen diplomatic relations between Israel and the continent.