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Israel-UAE normalization on agenda as Pompeo visits Middle East

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo arrives in Israel on May 13, 2020. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) next week to discuss the normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and the U.A.E.

Israel and the U.A.E. announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal, whihc included an Israeli pledge to suspend its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

The deal makes the U.A.E. the first Gulf Arab state to establish full diplomatic ties and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic relations with Israel.

The move was hailed by several Gulf states but slammed by Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians.

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Pompeo is expected to depart on April 23 for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, the U.A.E., Qatar, and Sudan, according to the Associated Press, quoting unidentified diplomats.

Pompeo’s agenda also will include security challenges posed by Iran and China in the region, said sources quoted by Reuters.

Taliban Talks

In Qatar, Pompeo plans to meet with members of the Taliban to discuss peace talks between the militant group and the Afghan government that are key to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, plans a separate trip to the Middle East, the AP said, quoting diplomats. Kushner plans to leave later in the week for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

The trips come after the United States formally launched the process of activating the Iran nuclear deal’s “snapback” mechanism aimed at reimposing UN sanctions on Iran, citing Iranian violations of the deal.

Pompeo on August 20 submitted a letter to the president of the UN Security Council notifying him of Iran’s “significant” noncompliance with the terms of the landmark accord. The move followed the failure of a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for an extension to an arms embargo on Iran in the Security Council.

The United States and its European allies have sparred over the U.S. approach. Some members of the Security Council have questioned the U.S. right to trigger the snapback since Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal more than two years ago and reimposed unilateral sanctions.