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First Israeli Prime Minister Visits UAE

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on a historic visit to UAE, a first ever visit by an Israeli prime minister to the Emirates. The Prime Minister will meet Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on 13 December. 

According to a statement released by the Israeli prime minister’s office, during the high-level visit, focus would be on deepening the ties between Israel and UAE, especially economic and regional issues.   

As Bennett arrived in Abu Dhabi, he was welcomed by the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. The Israeli leader is visiting the Gulf nation following an invitation by Prince Nahyan.

In 2020, the two nations formalized ties following an US-backed agreement. The agreement is known as the Abraham Accords. Following the signing of the agreement, a series of collaborative understanding made way for sharing of technological knowhow, exchange of tourists and economic development. Between January-July 2021, bilateral trade was worth more than $600 million. Emirates has signed up to invest in Israeli projects.

The talks come amid the backdrop of faltering Iran nuclear talks. Both countries have reservations over Iran’s nuclear reach. Israel has maintained that it will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. 

Nuclear enrichment programmes in Iran, according to Iranian officials, are for peaceful purposes.

Iran nuclear talks are going on in Vienna with the UK, Germany, France, China and Russia. The main purpose of these talks is to bring the US back to the dialogue table and compliance from Iran over inspection and other regulations. 

The former president of the US Donald Trump had withdrawn from the nuclear talks and had reimposed sanctions against Tehran. 

So far, the talks have faltered. Under such circumstances, it is reported that top Israeli diplomats are visiting US and other allies and Middle Eastern countries to increase pressure on Iran.

The visiting Israeli leader has urged to halt the ongoing talks. Israel says if sanctions are lifted from Iran, the revenue would be used to strengthen anti-Israel arsenals. 

Earlier this month, UAE’S National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Tehran and met the hardline president. The trip was the first ever after the ties between UAE and Iran were degraded in 2016.

Following the Abraham Accords, Israeli embassy opened up in Abu Dhabi in June this year. The Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met his Emirati counterpart during the inauguration of the mission.

Other than UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have signed similar agreements to establish ties with Israel.