Israel Invites De Facto UAE Leader to Visit, Eyes Trade Deal
Israel and UAE Leaders Discuss Economic Ties in Historic Trip
(Bloomberg) -- Israel invited Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, to visit and said work on a free-trade agreement would accelerate amid efforts to build on fledgling ties.
The announcements from the office of Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, came after the two leaders met for groundbreaking talks on Monday in Abu Dhabi.
A spokesman for Bennett said in a statement that the premier had invited Sheikh Mohammed to visit Israel, and that he had accepted. Bennett then instructed his staff to begin work on the trip with the Emirati side. The UAE has yet to comment.
Bennett is on the first ever official visit to the UAE by an Israeli prime minister after the two countries signed a normalization deal last year that was brokered by the U.S. Bennett’s office said Israeli officials had been instructed to speed up work on the trade deal, hoping it would be signed in the first quarter of 2022.
The Israeli leader also met with the chief executive officer of the Mubadala Investment Company, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak.
Israel and the UAE have sought ways to improve defense and economic relations since agreeing to forge diplomatic ties last year. Their efforts have been in part fostered by a shared concern over nearby Iran and its nuclear program.
Cross-border trade has steadily grown, capped off by Mubadala’s recent $1 billion purchase of a stake in Israel’s second-biggest natural gas field.
The two countries also agreed to set up a joint research and development fund to find commercial solutions to challenges ranging from climate change and desertification to clean energy and future agriculture, according to a joint statement published after the meeting.
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