Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, visits sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in more than 20 years.

After his somewhat modest performance in other parts of the world, he seems desperate to promote his country's interests in Africa.

Lieberman says the tour is aimed at developing economic ties and countering Iran's growing influence.

He expressed hopes that closer ties with Africa will help at the UN where African countries often vote in blocks, and that African states will not take part in unilateral decisions taken against Israel.

Lieberman is joined by around 20 Israeli businessmen including experts in energy, agriculture, shipping, irrigation, infrastructure, chemistry, media, and security.

What are Israel's objectives in Africa? And can Lieberman drum up support in a continent with a history of pro-Arab sentiments? 

Inside Story presenter Imran Garda is joined by Gamal Nkrumah, the deputy editor of al-Ahram weekly newspaper, Herb Keinon, a journalist and columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and Hamdi Abdul Rahmen, a professor of political science at Cairo University.

This episode of Inside Story airs from Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 1730GMT and 2230GMT, with repeats on Friday at 0430GMT and 1030GMT.

Source: Al Jazeera