Israeli delegation visits Bahrain on 1st direct flight between them

Jerusalem, Oct 18 (efe-epa).- A United States-Israeli delegation will visit Bahrain on Sunday on the first direct commercial flight between the two countries to advance the establishment of diplomatic relations between them.

It came after a normalization agreement was reached between Israel, the Gulf nation and the United Arab Emirates in Washington last month.

“It is not the end of the negotiations, it is the beginning,” an Israeli diplomatic source told the press on Saturday.

The dialogue followed a declaration of principles the two countries signed last month under US sponsorship, at the same time a normalization of relations with the UAE was also formalized.

The visit will last about seven hours, consisting of negotiations in three working groups to advance issues including the establishment of embassies in both countries, visas, trade agreements and civil affairs.

The US team will be led by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and special envoy for the Middle East Avi Berkowitz while the Israeli team will be led by national security advisor Meir Ben Shabbat and will include advisors to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, communications and tourism.

Ben Shabbat said the objective of the trip is to convert the agreement between the two countries into “practical plans and concrete agreements” which he said will cover various topics including finance, trade, tourism, aviation, communication, science, technology and agriculture.

Berkowitz tweeted: “I am very excited to be in Israel. Today we will head directly to Bahrain on the first ever commercial flight.”

He also posted a photo in front of the plane, which had the word “peace” written on it in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

The direct flight will fly over Saudi Arabia, with the delegation due to be received in Manama by the Bahraini foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

The Israeli foreign ministry described it as a “historic visit” in a tweet and said that in addition to agreements to promote relations between the two countries, a joint declaration on the formation of diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain will also be signed.

It is expected that between six and eight memorandums of cooperation will be signed and that commercial flights to Bahrain and visa procedures for tourists will be in place before the end of the year. EFE-EPA


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