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Netanyahu lands in Mexico after flying visit to Colombia

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos on September 13 2017.
Avi Ohayon/GPO
Earlier this year Netanyahu was chastened over a tweet in support for Donald Trump's wall on the Mexico border

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Mexico on Thursday following a speedy visit to Colombia, where he signed co-operation agreements on scientific and tourism with the country's president, Juan Manuel Santos‏.

Netanyahu is mid-way through a tour of the Americas which will end with an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York and which kicked off with the first ever visit of an Israeli head of government to Argentina, home to a large Jewish community.

On Twitter, President Santos lauded Israel as a "leader in innovation" and said that his country, one of South America's most promising emerging markets, "wants to follow in its footsteps". Santos also thanked Israel for supporting its bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

In public remarks at the Presidential compound in Bogata, Santos also praised Israel for its help training Colombian experts in defusing landmines, a deadly problem in the country as a result of the decades-long civil war that ended in the signing of a peace agreement between the two countries last year.

HO (Mexican Presidency/AFP/File)

In Mexico, Netanyahu will be hosted by President Enrique Pena Nieto, to whom the Israeli premier had to apologize in January "for the hurt" caused by a tweet in which he gave enthusiastic support for US president Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border to stymie illegal migration, and make Mexico pay for it.

“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea," Netanyahu tweeted. The spat was reportedly smoothed over after a phone call between Nieto and his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin.

Coinciding with the visit, Ynet reported that a pro-Israel lobby was being established in the Mexican parliament, following a visit to the West Bank by the head of the small, conservative PES party.

The head of the Shomron Regional Council, which comprises of a string of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and said that "we must not underestimate the importance of Latin America, which today joins enlightened nations fighting anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel and of Judea and Samaria [the biblical term for the West Bank] in particular."

After concluding his visit to Mexico, Netanyahu will travel to the United States for the UNGA address and a bilateral meeting with Trump.

Correction: A previous version of this article said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be in Mexico for three hours. In fact, Netanyahu will be in Mexico for a day, and was in Colombia for three hours. 


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