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Israel, Arab countries deepen cooperation ahead of Biden visit

June 27, 2022

Bahrain meeting follows foreign ministers' summit in Negev desert in March

The United States, Israel, and four Arab countries agreed to closer cooperation and annual foreign ministers' meetings on Monday, two weeks before US President Joe Biden's first visit to the Middle East.

Bahrain - host of the six-way talks - the United Arab Emirates and Morocco all opened ties with Israel under the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020, while Egypt made peace with the Jewish state in 1979.

Monday's meeting follows a foreign ministers' summit in the Negev desert in March, and comes ahead of Biden's visit to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia from July 13 to 16.

"We're trying to build a new regional framework... and tangible initiatives that can put flesh on the bones of the Negev forum," said Yael Lempert, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs.

Working groups will investigate cooperation in six areas, including security, clean energy and food and water security.

A joint statement also expressed the group's support for a negotiated settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"It's a very holistic approach, towards trying to advance this goal of building a new architecture that really has meaningful results," Lempert told reporters.

Foreign ministers from the six countries are expected to meet annually and the next ministerial talks should take place later this year, the statement said.

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