The president of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, on an official visit to Israel, on Wednesday met with Israel President Shimon Peres and praised the friendship between the two countries.

“We know the meaning of war, and we know the price of insecurity,” the Togolese president said. “Now, unlike in the past, African countries enjoy a steadfast friendship with Israel, and Israel’s friends are no longer ashamed to stand by its side.”

“You should know that we proudly pledge our support for you at the UN Security Council,” said Gnassingbé, whose country is predicted to be among the minority that will vote against granting the Palestinians nonmember state status at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

“We cannot renounce a wonderful friendship with a country that has managed to thrive in such a hostile environment,” he said of Israel.

In 2009, Israel and Togo signed a pact to strengthen and enhance ties between the two countries and start economic collaboration.

As part of his four-day visit, Gnassingbé planted an olive tree at the Grove of Nations in the Jerusalem Forest on Wednesday.

Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé in the act of planting a tree (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé planting a tree (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

“The tree I planted today in Jerusalem represents the good relations between our countries and our shared desire to build a better world together,” Gnassingbé said.

In Togolese tradition, he added, “if you planted a tree, it’s a sign you’ve led a meaningful life. Planting symbolizes growth, development and prosperity.”