Israeli and Emirati leaders meet Sisi in Egypt

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Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a three-way summit with Egyptian and Emirati leaders in Egypt on Monday amid Iran nuclear talks, Israeli media reported.

Bennett’s surprise visit to Egypt where he met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was reported by Israeli media.

Shortly after, the official Emirati news agency WAM said the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, was also in the resort town of Sharm. el-Sheikh for talks with Sisi.

Sisi’s spokesman, Bassam Radi, confirmed Sheikh Mohammed’s visit, which WAM said was aimed at “advancing cooperation on all fronts for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples”.

Sheikh Mohammed and Sisi “reviewed issues of interest and the latest developments on the regional and international scene”, and stressed “the importance of strengthening Arab solidarity in the face of common challenges”, WAM said, without giving More details.

Israeli and Egyptian officials did not immediately confirm Bennett’s visit.

But several Israeli media reported that the three leaders were discussing reports that Iran and Western powers, including the United States, are close to an agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Bennett vehemently opposes the pact between Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy, and world powers.

The United States had said last week that Washington and Tehran were close to an agreement on reinstating the deal.

“We’re close to a possible agreement, but we’re not there yet,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said March 16. “We believe the remaining issues can be resolved.”

Bennett called on Israel’s main ally, the United States, not to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations under a renewed agreement.

Iran said last week that only two final issues remained before agreeing to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Outstanding issues, according to sources familiar with the talks, are demands for ‘economic guarantees’ from Iran in case a future US administration changes its position and abrogates the deal, as President Donald Trump did in 2018; and that Washington remove its official terrorist group designation on the Iranian guards.

Direct negotiations have been underway for months in the Austrian capital Vienna between Iran, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia. The talks with the United States took place indirectly.

On Sunday, Bennett denounced attempts to sign a revived nuclear deal “at all costs”.

Israel and Egypt have been bound by a peace treaty since 1979.

In 2020, the United Arab Emirates became the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel, after Jordan which made peace with Israel in 1994.

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