Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would visit Bahrain ‘soon’ at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa. (AP)
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Updated 24 November 2020

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon
  • ‘We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time’

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would visit Bahrain “soon” at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa.
Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States that marked a strategic Middle East alignment against Iran. The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.
“We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he (Al-Khalifa) invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” Netanyahu said in a statement about a phone call he held with the crown prince.
A first Bahraini delegation visited Israel last Wednesday.
Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan toward normalizing their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan on Monday.
Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalizing ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.
Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.


EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
Updated 16 min 49 sec ago

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record.
Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
“We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he welcomed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks, describing 2020 as complicated.
“Intentions and announcements need to be translated into actions,” Borrell said.
The improved tone follows a video conference between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Jan. 9 in which both stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship.
Cavusoglu said he hoped von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the head of the European Council which represents the 27 EU member states, would visit Turkey after an invitation from Erdogan.
“It is of course important for there to be a positive atmosphere in Turkey-EU ties, but in order for this to be sustainable, we must take concrete steps,” Cavusoglu added.
2020 proved particularly difficult for relations between Turkey and the EU, especially France, with Erdogan expressing publicly his hope that protests in French cities would topple President Emmanuel Macron.
Greece and Cyprus, strongly backed by France, want to punish Turkey for what they see as provocative oil and gas exploration by Turkish vessels in disputed waters, but Germany and Italy are reluctant to go ahead with any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has now withdrawn the vessels and is set to restart talks with Greece, although the EU has accused Ankara of playing “cat and mouse” in a pattern of provocation and reconciliation.
EU leaders will decide in March whether to impose sanctions.
Brussels also accuses Erdogan of undermining the economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts and media, leaving Turkey’s bid to join the EU further away than ever.
“We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey,” Borrell said on Thursday.
The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to back a resolution calling for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician jailed in 20216 on terrorism-related charges.
But Turkey remains a big destination for EU trade and investment and also hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees. The EU aims to agree fresh funds for the refugees from 2022 to discourage them from coming into the bloc.
Ankara wants progress on Turks’ right to visa-free travel to the EU, an upgrade of its trade agreement with Europe and recognition of its claims to hydrocarbons off its maritime shelf.