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Egypt hosts Israeli PM, UAE crown prince for talks

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CAIRO: Egyptian President General Abdel Fattah al Sisi has hosted Israel’s prime minister and crown prince of Abu Dhabi as talks to revive a nuclear deal with Iran remain in limbo. Egyptian security sources and Israeli media said.

Egyptian presidency said Sisi and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan held expanded bilateral talks on Monday on issues including economic investment, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

Sisi stressed Egypt’s commitment to security in the Gulf and “rejection of any practices that seek to destabilise it,” the presidency said in a statement.

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”, without elaborating.

There was no official comment on any talks involving Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, but the Egyptian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the three leaders were holding discussions that covered the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine.

Several Israeli media outlets reported the three leaders were discussing reports that Iran and Western powers, including the United States, are close to a deal to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.

Bennett is vehemently opposed to the pact between Israel’s arch-foe Iran and world powers.

Shared concerns over Iran saw the UAE and Bahrain forge ties with Israel in 2020 to create a new regional axis at a time of uncertainty over the commitment of a key security ally, the United States.

Gulf states were excluded from talks to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran that they have criticised for not addressing Iran’s missiles programme and regional proxies, including in Yemen.

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

The UAE along with Saudi Arabia has resisted Western calls to hike oil output and contain a jump in crude prices caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Egypt faces new economic pressures due to the conflict that saw it devalue its currency by 14 percent on Monday. It has called on financial support from wealthy Gulf states in the past.

Bennett travelled to Abu Dhabi in December, the first official visit by an Israeli leader following the normalisation of relations between the two countries.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 and last week announced an agreement on direct flights between Tel Aviv and Sharm el-Sheikh.

Bennett visited Egypt last September, the first official trip by an Israeli head of government to the country in a decade.

In 2020, the UAE became the third Arab country to normalise ties with Israel, after Jordan which made peace with Israel in 1994.

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