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US official denies putting pressure on Kuwait to normalise ties with Israel

US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker (C) in Saudi Arabia on 5 September 2019 [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images]
US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker (C) in Saudi Arabia on 5 September 2019 [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images]

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, on Sunday denied reports claiming that Washington has been exerting pressure on Kuwait to normalise its relations with Israel.

"The UAE has deemed it is in their economic and strategic interests to have ties with Israel, which will benefit the state and the public. There will be states that share similar sentiments. This is nothing new – we have seen Israeli trade offices in the Gulf, we have seen other types of relationships. Whether they are formalized or not, we will see other developments," he told reporters.

Schenker visited Kuwait on Sunday as part of a regional tour that also includes Qatar and Lebanon.

During his visit to Kuwait, he met with the Kuwaiti Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah.

READ: Saudi hails UAE-Israel normalisation deal

On 13 August, US President Donald Trump announced a peace deal between the UAE and Israel brokered by Washington.

Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv's planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however refuted this on 17 August saying that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

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Asia & AmericasIsraelKuwaitMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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