UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The United States has arranged for secret talks between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have held secret meetings arranged by Washington in recent months to exchange information and coordinate efforts to counter what they see as the “growing threat” posed by Iran, the newspaper said on Thursday, citing unnamed US officials familiar with the secret diplomatic arrangements.
The meeting was organized by the US special envoy to Iran, Brian Hawk, in the latest sign of the ongoing thaw between Israel and the Gulf states, largely achieved by their mutual hostility toward Tehran and its attempts to spread its regional influence.
A US official said that the first meeting was held in the spring of this year, and another meeting was held recently; however, it is not possible to know the dates and locations of unannounced meetings.
Other officials pointed out that these meetings were known to a few people within the US government.
Israel has diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan only, and historical differences still exist with these two countries as well as other Arab countries, particularly over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But secret, and sometimes public, contacts between Israel and the Gulf states have increased in frequency in recent years amid growing concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and its role in conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
US officials said they aimed to strengthen diplomatic, military and intelligence cooperation in dealing with Iran.
UAE officials declined to comment; Israeli officials did not respond to the request for comment.
A former US official said Hawk wanted to help Israel and the United Arab Emirates in urging other countries in Europe and the Middle East to take a tough stance on Tehran.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz visited the United Arab Emirates earlier this year to attend a UN conference and said last week he had met a “high-level figure” in the UAE government.
Katz also met last month in Washington with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.
Against the backdrop of tension between Washington and Tehran, the former in July asked its allies to take part in a naval mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian practices, despite the hesitation of European countries in this regard.
Last Tuesday, Israel announced its participation in the US plan to secure navigation in the Arabian Gulf.
Washington and its Gulf allies, particularly Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, have accused Tehran of targeting merchant ships and oil installations in the Gulf, a charge denied by Iran, and offered to sign a “non-aggression” agreement with the Gulf states.
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