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US top diplomat in Israel for landmark Arab talks

TEL AVIV: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel Sunday for a “historic” assembly with Arab international locations which have normalised relations with the Jewish state within the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

Blinken, who arrived in Tel Aviv Saturday night, will meet along with his counterparts from Israel, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) within the Negev desert Sunday and Monday to mark the shift in Arab-Israeli relations that started in late 2020.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described it as a “historic summit”.

Blinken’s go to, the primary cease in a visit that may also take him to the West Bank, Algeria and Morocco — the place he’ll maintain talks with the UAE’s de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed — is concentrated partially on constructing assist for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.

US officers say two different key points are on the agenda for the journey: quelling the Jewish state’s worries a couple of looming nuclear cope with Iran, and discussing the potential international wheat scarcity attributable to the Ukraine struggle that would deal a heavy blow to the import-dependent Middle East.

“We know this pain is keenly felt in the Middle East and North Africa, where most countries import at least half of their wheat”, a lot of it from Ukraine, State Department Acting Assistant Secretary Yael Lempert stated forward of the journey.

The struggle “will only continue to increase the price of basic staples like bread in the region, taking money from the pockets of the hardest working and most vulnerable families,” she stated.

Worries over Iran nuclear deal

The journey comes because the United States and Iran are within the closing phases of negotiating a revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which aimed to forestall Tehran from growing a nuclear weapons capability.

The administration of former US president Donald Trump stop the deal unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed punishing financial sanctions, and Iran has since resumed lots of its delicate nuclear actions.

The conclusion of a renewed accord might are available a matter of “days”, EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell, who’s coordinating talks with Tehran, stated Saturday.

“We are very close but there are still some issues pending,” Borrell informed reporters on the sidelines of the Doha Forum in Qatar.

His feedback got here because the EU diplomat chairing the Vienna talks on the deal, Enrique Mora, was due in Tehran.

US officers say reaching a deal hinges on one or two key points, however that Tehran has to make “difficult choices” if it needs an settlement.

But the attainable deal worries Israel and US allies within the Gulf, who see Iran as a menace.

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated he was “deeply troubled” by the prospect of a brand new nuclear deal, which Israel fears wouldn’t stop Iran from growing a nuclear weapon.

Ahead of the talks, Bennett despatched a uncommon message to regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, expressing “sorrow” over a wave of assaults by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels on Friday that hit targets together with an oil plant close to the Formula One race in Jeddah.

“This attack is further proof that Iran’s regional aggression knows no bounds,” Bennett wrote on Twitter late Saturday.

Palestinian issues

Blinken may also meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah within the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Palestinians stay involved that they’re being forgotten within the US-backed push for Arab governments to spice up relations with Israel and give attention to Iran as their principal menace.

The Trump administration slashed assist for the Palestinians and closed the US consulate in Jerusalem devoted to Palestinian relations.

Biden promised to reopen the consulate, however a 12 months into his administration that transfer has not come.

The consulate challenge “will certainly be a topic of discussion”, Lempert stated.

After Israel, Blinken will journey to Morocco and Algeria to speak about regional safety and the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which has divided the 2 neighbours.

Also in Morocco, he’ll maintain talks with the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed, who has change into a serious political power within the area.

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