Jerusalem — Zaire's decision to restore diplomatic relations with Israel was hailed as the first success in a long, often secretive Israeli campaign to win back former friends in black Africa.
For many months Israel has been quietly courting some of the 28 African states which severed ties under heavy Arab pressure at the time of the 1973 Middle East war. Officials said they hoped other African states would soon follow Zaire's lead. Newspapers speculated that Gabon, Kenya, Ghana, or the Ivory Coast would be next. Each allows a resident Israeli interest office to operate in its capital.
Within hours of the announcement yesterday, an aide of Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko held talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and said Zaire would set up its embassy in Jerusalem.
Ironically, Zaire led the black African campaign to isolate Israel in 1973.