Herzog becomes first Israeli president to visit Bahrain

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived Sunday in Bahrain, the first visit by an Israeli head of state to the small Gulf kingdom since the two countries normalized relations in 2020.

Herzog, whose role is largely ceremonial, was greeted at the airport by Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, according to pictures posted to his Twitter account.

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He said on Twitter he planned to meet King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, as well as Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who is crown prince and prime minister.

Accompanied by an economic delegation, Herzog said he would discuss “ways to strengthen our economic cooperation” along with climate change and security issues.

Herzog said he would then travel to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

In 2020, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states in decades to normalise relations with Israel, following negotiations spearheaded by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

The Jewish state had earlier reached peace treaties with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.

“I call on more states in our region to join this partnership, strengthening the Middle East,” Herzog tweeted on Sunday.

“The expanding circle of (Middle East) peace is highly important, especially amid threats to global and regional stability. In the face of hate, threats & terror, there is one answer: alliances with friends.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, then Israel’s top diplomat, visited Bahrain in September last year to open the Israeli embassy there.

In February of this year, Israel signed a defense agreement with Bahrain and Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli premier to visit the country.

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