Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara
Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara said he will work with Israel on the repatriation of Côte D’Ivoire nationals who entered the country illegally. Reuters

Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara wants Israel to repatriate fellow Ivoirians who are in the country illegally, he has told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral cooperation in healthcare, agriculture, science and technology, Netanyahu's office said.

Ouattara said of the repatriation plan: "We shall examine the list and return our citizens to their country and to their homeland in full cooperation with Israel."

During his meeting with the speaker of the Knesset (parliament) Reuven Rivlin, Ouattarra backed recent moves by Israel to curb the influx of migrants.

"We know very well about the migration problem as a state which both absorbs refugees and from which 250 000 refugees fled during the grave political crisis," Ouattara told Rivlin.

"We have managed to reduce the number of [our] refugees around the world to around 60 000 and we hope that they will return to Côte d'Ivoire in the coming months," he said.

He said attempts by Africans to risk their lives to escape to the West were "humiliating".

"It's quite humiliating to see African citizens trying to reach another country at almost any price. It's terrible to see African youth trying to cross the sea and drowning on the way to Europe," he said.

Israel claimed that 2,000 Côte D'Ivoire nationals had entered the country illegally. Interior minister Sabine Haddad said 1,600 Ivoirians had been arrested and were slated for deportation.

Authorities have started rounding up African migrants as part of an operation called "Going back home".

On 17 June Israel deported 127 South Sudanese to the South Sudan capital of Juba.