Israel’s Netanyahu to visit UAE for first official trip

Israel’s Netanyahu to visit UAE for first official trip
Benjamin Netanyahu attends the first working cabinet meeting of the new government at the Chagall Hall in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 11 March 2021

Israel’s Netanyahu to visit UAE for first official trip

Israel’s Netanyahu to visit UAE for first official trip
  • Israeli PM will meet crown prince of Abu Dhabi at airport on Thursday
  • UAE and Israel begin formal talks to establish quarantine-free travel corridor between the two countries

LONDON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay his first visit to the UAE on Thursday to further cement ties, Al Arabiya TV and Israeli media reported.
There was no immediate confirmation of the trip from the Israeli prime minister’s office or the UAE.
According to the Israeli reports, Netanyahu will meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The UAE and Bahrain signed a US-brokered deal, known as the Abraham Accords, to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in September. Morocco and Sudan followed with similar agreements with the Jewish state.
The most detailed of the accords was with the UAE. The nations agreed to approve bilateral deals on 15 areas of mutual interest, including finance, trade, aviation, energy, telecommunications, health, agriculture and water.
Netanyahu’s visit Thursday comes after both countries have exchanged ambassadors and set up embassies.
It was not immediately clear if Netanyahu, on what Israeli media said would be a one-day visit, would also go to Bahrain, as he had planned to do during his previously scheduled one-day trip to the Gulf in February, which he postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Emirati and Israeli governments on Wednesday began formal discussions to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor between the two countries, for travelers who have received the COVID-19 vaccines.
The deal “aims to facilitate travel for commercial, tourism and official purposes,” the UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Meetings are currently taking place between the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, and his counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, to negotiate the terms of the agreement.
They aim to finalize and implement the agreement by April.
A joint statement said the two sides affirmed that the travel corridor would “increase the level of bilateral exchange in the wake of the historic Abraham Accords for peace, and generate additional opportunities to strengthen economic and social relations between the two peoples.”
The UAE and Israel’s national inoculation campaigns are among the fastest in the world with regards to vaccine rollout.
The travel corridor is being established in recognition of both governments’ successful efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and that eliminating the virus requires effective, widespread and coordinated inoculation campaigns between different countries, WAM said.
“The UAE and Israeli leadership reaffirmed that strengthening global health security is a collective responsibility, and stressed the importance of multilateral efforts and international cooperation to achieve fair and sustainable recovery from this pandemic,” the statement added.
(With AP, AFP and Reuters)

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