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Malawi to establish embassy in Jerusalem

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Malawi is to become the first African country to follow the US example and open an embassy to Israel in the disputed city of Jerusalem, their foreign ministers announced Tuesday.

"I'm sure that more African leaders will follow this decision," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told reporters after a meeting with his Malawian counterpart Eisenhower Mkaka.

"I would like to congratulate the Malawian government on the important decision to be the pioneer, and the first African country to establish its embassy in Jerusalem," he said.

Mkaka said he delivered a message from President Lazarus Chakwera on the decision to open a Jerusalem embassy, expected by summer 2021.

Malawi has had diplomatic ties with the Jewish state since 1964 but without opening an embassy.

The embassy plans in Jerusalem mark a bold step by President Lazarus Chakwera, who took office in June. Chakwera is a former preacher.

"To us, Israel remains a true partner, and we would like to maintain that strong link between Malawi and Israel" Eisenhower Mkaka, Malawi's Foreign Minister, told the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during his visit.

Breaking with longstanding diplomatic practice, US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 and subsequently moved its embassy there earlier this year.

Israel considers the holy city its eternal capital, but Palestinians want east Jerusalem, seized in a 1967 Middle East war, as part of a future state.