Netanyahu arrives in Uganda on anniversary of Israeli hostage rescue

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived for what he described as a historic visit to Uganda on Monday, kicking off a four-country tour of Africa on the 40th anniversary of Israel's Entebbe hostage rescue operation.

Public broadcaster UBC showed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni welcoming Netanyahu at Entebbe airport, the site of a daring hostage rescue operation by Israeli forces in 1976 in which Netanyahu's brother Yoni was killed.

On June 27, 1976, an Air France plane with 248 passengers en route from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked by Palestinian and German hijackers and forced to land in Uganda.

Netanyahu's brother was killed a week later as he helped lead the July 4 Israeli raid to free the more than 100 hostages held at the airport.

More than 30 people were killed in the operation, among them Ugandan soldiers who supported the hijackers.

The first Israeli premier to visit sub-Saharan Africa in at least three decades, Netanyahu is also scheduled to travel to Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

"I am glad that Israel is returning to Africa, in great fashion," Netanyahu said before departing from Israel.

The Israeli premier's office said he was expected to meet African leaders in a special summit in Uganda, to be attended by President Museveni, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Dr. Augustine Philip Mahiga.

In Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, he was expected to separately meet the nations' heads of state and security and economic leaders and to speak before parliament.

Netanyahu is accompanied by approximately 80 business leaders from over 50 companies in order to forge commercial ties with African companies and countries. Economic seminars will be held in Kenya and Ethiopia with the participation of the accompanying business leaders and their local counterparts.

The visit was seen as part of Israel's efforts to relaunch its relations with a continent ripe for investment and which Israel hopes could lend it political support in a hostile world.

Last update: Mon, 04/07/2016 - 15:58

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