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Netanyahu Denies Reports of Assassination Attempt in Kenya

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn speak during a joint press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 7, 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday denied reports of an attempt on his life in Kenya during his African tour this week, saying he knew "nothing'' of it.

Netanyahu said he was learning about the reports of an assassination attempt for the first time during a press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa.

"The answer is we know nothing about it because there is nothing in it,'' Netanyahu said.

He made the remarks in response to a reporter's question.

Kenyan officials also denied there was an effort to kill Netanyahu.

"An attempted assassination can't be secret. It has to be something visible, and to my knowledge there was absolutely nothing of the sort,'' Kenya's Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told The Associated Press.

"I'm not aware, and there was no such thing at all. Those are lies,'' Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said.

The Israeli prime minister is protected by heavy security in Israel and abroad, given high threats against Israeli targets around the world. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in Tel Aviv in 1995.

Netanyahu's four-nation Africa visit is the first to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting Israeli prime minister in nearly three decades. He has visited Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda while pursuing closer security and other ties with African nations.

Israel also wants African states to support it at the United Nations, where the Palestinians were recognized as a non-member observer state in 2012.

Netanyahu and Desalegn said Thursday they would renew cooperation in the fight against extremism, and they signed agreements to increase ties in technology, agriculture and more.

Desalegn also invited Ethiopian Jews living in Israel to come to Ethiopia and invest. Ethiopian Jews have complained of discrimination in Israeli society, and hundreds recently demonstrated against what they called Israeli police brutality.

"Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel,'' Netanyahu said.

Israel played a prominent role in assisting newly independent African countries in the 1960s, but relations crumbled in the 1970s when Arab countries, promising aid, pressured African nations to cut ties.