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Jonathan leaves for Israel on pilgrimage, official visit -- Presidency

22 October 2013, 19:28

Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan will late on Wednesday embark on a pilgrimage and official visit to Israel, the Presidency said.

A statement issued on Tuesday by Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, stated that the President would meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of the official visit.

Abati noted that the President would also meet with members of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

He stated that the talks between the President’s delegation and Israeli government officials were expected to focus on the enhancement of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel.

Abati said that the areas of bilateral talks between both countries include trade, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, communications, culture, education and tourism.

The President would also meet with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

The special adviser noted that the President would be accompanied on the trip by Sen. Emmanuel Paulker, the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, Water Resources Minister Sarah Ochekpe and Works Minister Mike Onolememen.

Also on the President’s entourage are the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Prof Viola Onwuliri, and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Abati said that the President and the entourage would undertake a tour of some locations in Israel, revered by Christians because of their association with the earthly mission of Jesus Christ.

He added that Jonathan might meet and interact with some Nigerians who are already on pilgrimage to Israel.

The Presidential spokesperson debunked reports in the media that the President is leading 19 state governors and about 30,000 Nigerians to Israel.

"Such reports are misrepresentation of facts. Irrespective of President Jonathan’s visit, thousands of Nigerians visit Israel annually during the pilgrimage, which goes on for months and they will undoubtedly do so again between now and early next year

"It is entirely fortuitous for some of these Nigerian pilgrims therefore that their visit to Israel this year will coincide with President Jonathan's,’’ he said.

He said the President is expected back in Abuja early next week.



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