JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli delegation and top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump will fly together to the United Arab Emirates on Monday for talks on cementing the two Middle East countries’ deal to normalise relations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The high-level meeting would be the first between the three parties since Trump announced the U.S.-brokered accord on Aug. 13.
The deal still awaits negotiations on details such as opening embassies, trade and travel links before it is officially signed.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and other U.S. officials will travel together with an Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Netanyahu said in a video statement.
A senior U.S. administration official confirmed the participation of Kushner, O’Brien and Berkowitz, and said U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook would also be on the flight.
The U.S. and Israeli officials will fly aboard an Israeli airliner direct from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever commercial flight between the two countries, Israel’s Kan broadcaster reported.
Talks will focus on ways to promote Israeli-UAE cooperation in sectors such as aviation and tourism, trade, finance, health, energy and security, Netanyahu said.
“This is a historic agreement. It will bring growth engines … I hope other countries in our region will join the circle of peace.”
The deal would make the UAE only the third Arab country to forge ties with Israel in more than 70 years, after Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
But the prospect that the agreement could grant the Gulf power access to advanced weaponry previously denied to it has upset Israel, and could emerge as a sticking point in negotiations.
During a visit to the region to showcase U.S. support for Israeli-Arab ties, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Israel on Monday it would retain a military advantage in the region under any future arms deal with the UAE.
On Tuesday, top UAE and Israeli defence officials held their first publicly-acknowledged phone call, heralding possible security cooperation.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Dan Williams; additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool)