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Bennett becomes first Israeli leader to pay state visit to UAE

IIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is heading to Abu Dhabi for a historic visit, with talks on Iran’s nuclear program and its impact on the Middle East expected to top the agenda.

Bennett flew on Sunday, becoming the first Israeli prime minister to pay an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. He is due to meet the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, on Monday.

Negotiations between world powers and Iran to revive a 2015 deal that lifted economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic in return for curbs on its nuclear program have made little progress amid mutual recriminations.

While a shared concern over Iran’s ability to destabilize the world’s top oil-exporting region prompted the UAE and Israel to strike a historic deal to establish diplomatic ties last year, they have diverged. on their approach to accelerated nuclear enrichment and Iran’s tightrope policy. since the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.

Bennett echoed a hard line against any concessions to Iran shared by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who pressured President Donald Trump to abandon the nuclear deal.

Israel says a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat and that removing sanctions would allow Tehran to fund regional militias to threaten Israel. Government officials have suggested that Israel could resort to strikes on Iranian sites if diplomacy fails. Iran denies that it seeks to build nuclear weapons.

The United Arab Emirates has taken a different approach, with officials shuttling between regional capitals offering significant investment and trade in a bid to ease tensions. Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, the UAE’s national security adviser and brother of the crown prince, met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi last week to mend a historically close relationship that has soured in recent years.

Although the approaches “are divergent, they can be complementary,” said Mohammed Baharoon, chief executive of Dubai-based think tank B’huth.

Israel’s alleged strikes on Iranian nuclear sites have delayed the program but also given the Islamic Republic time to upgrade its capabilities, giving Tehran greater bargaining power in negotiations with the United States and the United States. Europe, he said.

Meanwhile, “Abu Dhabi can provide a controlled and contained sanctions facility, allowing Iran to engage in the Vienna talks without making the full lifting of sanctions conditional.”

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