Israel-UAE hold historic meeting, Iran continues to be in focus

In the first ever public meeting, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan played host to Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett, following the formalisation of Israel-UAE ties in 2020.

Ahead of the talks, Israeli ambassador to Abu Dhabi said, the topic of Iran will “certainly come up”.

Shared concerns over Iranian activity was among the reasons for the diplomatic meeting; the UAE is also been trying to improve its relations with Tehran.

The Israeli leader’s office described the meeting as “historic”.

Before the meeting, Bennett’s office issued a statement saying Sheikh Mohammed has accepted an invitation to visit Israel.

UAE has yet to provide a confirmation for the same.

In a report, state news agency WAM said Sheikh Mohammed voiced hope for “stability in the Middle East” and that Bennett’s visit would “advance the relationship of cooperation towards more positive steps in the interests of the people of the two nations and of the region”.

While Israeli Ambassador Amir Hayek declined to elaborate on any discussion revolving around Iran, he said, “The prime minister did not only come here solely to address the Iranian issue.”

With global powers trying to renew the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, last week Abu Dhabi sent an envoy to Tehran. A U.S. delegation is due in the UAE this week to warn Emirati banks against non-compliance with sanctions on Iran. 

Commenting on the visit, Iranian Foreign Ministry said, it was “disruptive to the region’s security and (going) against the interests of the Islamic nation and the people of the region and Arab countries”.

According to a report from Israel’s Hayom newspaper, Bennett was expected to brief Sheikh Mohammed on intelligence regarding Iranian-supplied militias and drones in the region.

Last month, Israel had proposed setting up joint defenses with Gulf states against Iran.

“Israel is in cooperation with a new friend, with a partner for the long-term, and the considerations will be both considerations of defense and also considerations of how you work with a country which is very, very, very friendly to Israel,” said Hayek.

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