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Bahraini FM: Visit of Israeli Delegation to Manama is 'Historic'

Bahraini FM: Visit of Israeli Delegation to Manama is 'Historic'

Sunday, 18 October, 2020 - 17:00
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, deliver statements before boarding Israeli flag carrier El Al plane to Bahrain, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel October 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani described the visit of the Israeli delegation to the country as "historic".

The Israeli delegation, which arrived to Manama on Sunday, boarded an El Al Israel Airlines charter flight and was accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The office of the US official said the mission seeks “expanded economic cooperation” among Israel, Bahrain and the UAE.

The route of El Al Flight 973 holds a nod to Bahrain’s telephone code.

At a ceremony with Mnuchin at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz said that Israel and Bahrain would sign a joint communique “bringing forward tourism and banking and diplomatic relations”.

Also speaking at the airport ceremony, the head of the Israeli delegation, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, said talks would also focus on sectors such as finance and aviation.

For his part, the Spokesperson of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lior Haiat also said that the first visit by an official Israeli delegation to Bahrain was a historic visit on a historic day.

"This is the first time that an official Israeli delegation is coming to Bahrain on the first direct commercial flight from Israel to Bahrain," he said. "This is a historic day for which we have been waiting for many years."

Haiat told Bahrain News Agency (BNA) ahead of the Israeli-US delegation arrival that the aim is "to establish a few working groups that will deal with the main issues, the infrastructure of the future peace between the two countries and to sign bilateral agreements to establish diplomatic relations and peace between the two countries, basically the peace agreements."

"The other MoUs will be on agriculture, economy, cooperation between the two ministries of foreign affairs and so many other things that we are looking forward to establishing as part of the peaceful relations between the two countries," he said.

Haiat, who expected more countries to join, said, "What we are seeing is a new reality in the Middle East, a new reality."

The spokesperson hailed the role of the US in this new reality.

"They have done so much to help both our countries to reach peace and the entire region to reach stability and prosperity," he said.

Also, in remarks to Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the “impressive progress” the Bahrain visit represents.

"I hope that we will be able to tell you soon about additional countries." he said.

"It is not so new because we have been leading it for 25 years."

Mnuchin and the other US officials travel on Monday to the UAE, where accord with Israel has uncorked bilateral commerce.

On Tuesday the US dignitaries will join the UAE’s first delegation to Israel.

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