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Israel to meet with UAE, Bahrain diplomats ahead of Biden visit

BE'ER SHEVA, ISRAEL - MARCH 28: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani (L) shake hands after signing a cooperation agreement within "Negev Summit" in Negev district of Be'er Sheva, Israel on March 28, 2022. ( İsrail Dışişleri Bakanlığı - Anadolu Agency )
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani (L) shake hands after signing a cooperation agreement within "Negev Summit" in Negev district of Be'er Sheva, Israel on March 28, 2022 [İsrail Dışişleri Bakanlığı - Anadolu Agency]

Diplomats from the US, Israel and four Arab states will meet today in the Bahraini capital Manama to discuss further cooperation after the historic Negev Summit held in March.

It was the first such meeting following the US-brokered Abraham Accords which saw Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE sign normalisation agreements with Israel. Egypt, which will also send a representative to today's meeting, made peace with Israel in 1979. Jordan, which also recognises Israel, is expected to join future meetings, and it is hoped the Palestinian Authority will too.

The meetings are aimed at deepening cooperation in several fields, including water, tourism, health, energy, food and regional security. The latter covers mutual concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and dialogue over the unresolved issue of the occupation of Palestinian land.

READ: Israel building US-backed air regional defence alliance with Arab States to counter Iran

Speaking to reporters Israel's Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Oded Joseph, who heads the Middle East and Peace Process Divisions, said: "One of the topics they will discuss is a regional security architecture."

"It's an important event" and a cornerstone for future cooperation, Joseph said, confirming that Iran will be one of the topics that will be raised.

Israel's Foreign Ministry also said: "[The Negev Summit Steering Committee]… will also serve as a milestone ahead of the US President's expected visit to the Middle East."

President Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East is scheduled for 13-16 July, starting with Israel, including stops in the occupied West Bank and the stalled but much anticipated visit to Saudi Arabia amid speculation that the Biden administration will push Riyadh to enter normalisation agreements with Tel Aviv.

READ: Secret talks between Israel, Saudi military chiefs, WSJ reveals

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