Middle East

More Arab States to explore relations with Israel during Biden ME trip – US official

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Barbara Leaf, announced yesterday that the Biden administration is working towards improving relations between Israel and the Arab States with which it has relations.

According to The Times of Israel, she also said more Arab nations will be exploring relations with Israel during US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“We are working in a space that is not in the public domain with a couple of other countries,” Barbara said at a congressional sub-committee hearing.

“I think you will see some interesting things around the time of the President’s visit,” she added.

Asked to elaborate, she responded, “I really wouldn’t want to step on the President’s toes.”

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Biden will travel to the Middle East from 13 July to 16 July, the White House said in a statement, starting in Israel and the West Bank, before landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, he is expected to meet with regional leaders as part of a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the White House said.

The meetings aim to deepen cooperation in areas including water, tourism, health and food security, Leaf said.

She added that the UAE-Israel relationship “is going like gangbusters”, but that the Biden administration also wanted to encourage broader cooperation.

In September 2020, the UAE and Israel signed a US-sponsored deal to normalise their relations. Since then, the two countries exchanged official visits by senior officials and have signed dozens of bilateral agreements in various fields, including investment, banking services and tourism.

Three other Arab states – Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – joined the UAE in the controversial move that came to be known as the Abraham Accords.

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