Israel’s foreign minister traveled to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to begin the visit by his country’s highest-level official to the Persian Gulf state since the two countries normalized relations nine months ago.
Yair Lapid planned to meet his Emirati counterpart in Abu Dhabi and a focus of the talks is expected to be Iran, which both countries consider a regional threat.
The UAE and Israel had strong reservations about the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers brokered by the Barack Obama administration, which sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear weapons capability. That shared concern that the deal was insufficient helped lead to closer relations and secret meetings long before the formal announcement of diplomatic relations last year.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat told reporters that bilateral cooperation between the two countries is moving forward at an unprecedented pace.
For years Israel and the UAE have maintained discreet relations and are now taking advantage of the fruits of the peace infrastructure built over the past decades, Haiat said.
The Donald Trump administration brokered the agreement that established bilateral relations, something both Trump and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu count among their administrations’ greatest achievements.
President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew the United States, causing concern in Israel and several Persian Gulf countries, which supported the former president’s pressure campaign on Iran.