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Israeli president to make first-ever high-profile diplomatic visit to UAE

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog (left) and Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al-Khaja cut the ribbon at the new UAE embassy in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2021. AFP

Israeli president to make first-ever high-profile diplomatic visit to UAE

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog will make a historic visit to the UAE at the end of the month, his office said on January 25, in the latest high-profile diplomatic trip since the countries normalised ties.

Herzog’s office said the president, who will travel with the first lady, will meet UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during the January 30-31 trip.

“We have the privilege of making history by making the first visit of an Israeli president to the UAE,” Herzog said in the statement, adding that the countries were “laying the foundations of a new shared future”.

Herzog is also scheduled to meet with the ruler of Dubai and senior government officials, and visit the Dubai Expo, his office said.

The visit comes some 16 months after the wealthy UAE broke with decades of Arab consensus and forged diplomatic ties with Israel.

The move was part of a series of US-brokered deals known as the Abraham Accords, pacts that have angered the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made history last month when he became the first Israeli head of government to visit UAE, in a trip that partly focused on international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, a top Israeli security priority.

Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, will be the first Israeli head of state to officially visit the UAE.

He vowed “the bold new partnership” between the countries “will transform the Middle East”, with Israel keen to expand the list of Arab nations that sign on to the Abraham Accords.

The deals were negotiated under former US president Donald Trump but endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration.

Bahrain and Morocco have also normalised ties with Israel under the accords.

Sudan has agreed to do so but formal diplomatic relations have not emerged amid roiling instability in Khartoum.

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