The Acting Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, Mr

The statement signed by Mr Celestine Ogugua, Head of Media, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims commission (NCPC), and made available to newsmen Thursday in Abuja, said that Goren made the pledge when he paid a courtesy visit to the NCPC boss, Rev. Tor Uja.

It said that the diplomat informed Uja that the reason for his visit was to have an introductory meeting to strengthen the cooperation.

The statement quoted the ambassador as saying that he would have a meeting with all consular officers in NCPC and the Israeli Embassy, on how to fast track visa issuance to pilgrims.

It stated that the acting ambassador also welcomed the agricultural initiatives being canvassed by NCPC, in which youths on pilgrimage would have the opportunity of learning from Israel's rich experience.

It said that he assured NCPC’s boss that the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with the State of Israel would be given accelerated push through the legal department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation.

According to the statement, Uja informed the ambassador that he recently had fruitful discussions with officials of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on pilgrimage issues, especially on visa.

``We have the leaders of the pilgrimage movement in Nigeria and they should be given one year visa.

``This will help in the organisation of pilgrimage if visas are issued to last for at least one year.

It said that NCPC boss also urged the Israeli authorities to step up the issue of direct flight from Nigeria to Israel.

``We believe that if the BASA agreement is activated, it will reduce the long hours on board.

``We will love to reduce the cost of pilgrimage so that more people can go on pilgrimage,’’ Uja was quoted as saying.