First UAE delegation visits Israel for a series of agreements

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The first ever official United Arab Emirates delegation to Israel took off on Tuesday as the two countries look to broaden cooperation after normalizing ties last month under a US-brokered accord, forged largely over shared fears of Iran.

An Etihad Airways plane carrying Emirati government officials, with US dignitaries accompanying them, left the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, headed to Ben-Gurion Airport, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

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Israeli officials said the visit would be restricted to the airport due to coronavirus concerns.

The Emirati delegation is led by Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq al-Mari and Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid al-Tayer, a UAE foreign ministry spokeswoman tweeted.

Israeli officials said the two sides were expected to sign a mutual visa-exemption agreement - Israel’s first with an Arab country.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the Arab media Ofir Gendelman announced Tuesday on Twitter that Israeli PM Netanyahu will host today a trilateral summit meeting with the participation of US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Middle East envoy Ari Berkowitz and United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, agreements will be signed in the fields of avation, protection of investments, exemption from entry visas, science and technology.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz have accompanied the Israeli delegation to Bahrain on Sunday for a signing ceremony to formalize ties.

"This is an historical moment for the UAE country and Israel and we are looking forward to salaam (peace) ... in the region," one of the pilots could be heard saying in a video posted on Twitter by U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz.

Israel and the UAE have already signed several commercial deals since mid-August, when they first announced they would establish full relations.

The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign deals to establish formal ties with Israel, a move that Washington and its allies have said would foster regional peace and stability but which has been rejected by the Palestinians.

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