Blinken to meet with Israel, UAE diplomats

Washington (AFP) –


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet next week with top diplomats from Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said Saturday, to discuss "progress made" in the year since they agreed to normalization.

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on October 13 in separate bilateral meetings and then in a trilateral setting," the State Department said in a statement.

"They will discuss progress made since the signing of the Abraham Accords last year, future opportunities for collaboration, and bilateral issues including regional security and stability."

Blinken had met virtually in mid-September with Lapid and top Emirati foreign policy adviser Anwar Gargash, as well as top diplomats from Bahrain and Morocco.

The meeting amounted to a full embrace by President Joe Biden of the so-called Abraham Accords, which his predecessor Donald Trump considered a key foreign policy legacy.

"This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward," Blinken said at the time.

He said that normalization has benefitted the people of the region and helps to address broader challenges including terrorism and climate change.

Lapid -- like Blinken, representing a new administration after the accord forged by a right-wing government -- said he would pay a first visit to Bahrain later in September. He had already visited the other two Arab states.

"This Abraham Accords club is open for new members," Lapid said.

The United Arab Emirates last year became the first Arab state to normalize relations with Israel since Egypt and Jordan decades earlier, with Bahrain and Morocco following suit soon afterward.

The United Arab Emirates agreed to normalization after Israel's then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed away from the prospect, blessed by Trump, of annexing vast swaths of the West Bank.