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Bahrain delegation in Israel for talks on boosting cooperation

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A 40-strong Bahraini delegation arrived in Israel Tuesday for two days of talks on boosting economic cooperation and tourism after the two countries normalized relations in September.

The Gulf state of Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in signing up to a US-brokered deal to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, becoming the third and fourth Arab countries to do so.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi had been due to visit Bahrain this week but the trip was cancelled, diplomatic sources told AFP without elaborating.

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The cancellation followed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist blamed on the Israeli spy agency, the Mossad.

Last month, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdellatif al-Zayani held Jerusalem talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was on a farewell visit.

The latest delegation, led by Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, landed at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday, Israeli diplomatic sources confirmed.

The delegation is scheduled to meet both Ashkenazi and Netanyahu on Wednesday.

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Israeli authorities did not indicate whether the delegation would visit the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Many Palestinians are hostile to Arab governments normalizing their relations with Israel without a comprehensive peace deal and oppose such visits.

The Waqf, which manages Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City, cannot bar any Muslim from visiting them.

with AFP