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Israel and UAE foreign ministers meeting Greek and Cypriot counterparts for regional talks

April 16, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Cyprus’ capital Nicosia on 21 October 2020 [IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/POOL/AFP/Getty Images]

The foreign ministers of Israel and the UAE are meeting with their Greek and Cypriot counterparts today, the Times of Israel has reported. The two-day meeting is being held in Cyprus.

The Israeli foreign ministry noted that this will be the first meeting of its kind involving the four nations, as part of the efforts being made to advance regional strategic interests. The ministers are expected to discuss economic and security issues, the coronavirus pandemic and possible travel corridors to encourage tourism.

According to the Cypriot foreign ministry, the intention is to enhance peace, stability and security in the wider region. It added that delegates would also meet President Nicos Anastasiades in Paphos on Saturday, with the UAE delegation taking part by video link.

Cyprus said the unprecedented four-way talks would “take advantage of the prospects opened” by the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE. Former US President Donald Trump announced such an agreement between the UAE and Israel brokered by Washington last August.

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At the time, the UAE claimed that normalisation was an effort to stave off Israel’s planned annexation of a large part of the occupied West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied this, and insisted that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been postponed.

Opponents believe that normalisation has been in the offing for many years as Israelis have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country even though there were no diplomatic relations between the two countries.