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UPDATE - Top Bahraini diplomat in Israel on 1st official visit

UPDATE - Top Bahraini diplomat in Israel on 1st official visit
Manama, Tel Aviv agree to open embassies as part of normalization deal


By Mahmoud Barakat and Abdelraouf Arnaout

ANKARA/JERUSALEM (AA) – Bahraini foreign minister arrived in Israel's capital on Wednesday on his first official visit to the country since Manama established diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv in September, Israeli media reported.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Abdullatif al-Zayani arrived on the first commercial flight to the Israeli capital by Bahrain's flag carrier Gulf Air, as the two sides seek to expand cooperation following the US-brokered agreement to establish formal ties.

The Bahraini minister was accompanied by an American delegation headed by Washington's envoy for peace negotiations in the Middle East, Avi Berkowitz.

In a news conference with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, at the headquarters of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in West Jerusalem, al-Zayani said he submitted an official request to the Israeli government to open an embassy in Israel.

On the other hand, the Bahraini government agreed to the Israeli request to open an embassy in Manama.

The Bahraini foreign minister also announced that he has invited his Israeli counterpart to visit Manama next month to participate in a conference.

Accepting the invitation, Ashkenazi hoped to visit Bahrain soon. “We agreed in our talks to open an Israeli embassy in Manama and a Bahraini embassy in Israel as soon as possible, and I hope that we can celebrate their opening by the end of the year," Ashkenazi said, pointing out that direct commercial flights will start soon between the two countries and Bahrainis will be able to apply online for Israeli visa as of Dec. 1.

“I promise you to come to Manama in the near future and we will continue our constructive discussions that we started today, and we will continue to strengthen relations between our countries and our peoples," the Israeli minister added.

Ashkenazi addressed his Bahraini counterpart, saying: "We are more than just friends, we are also partners who share a vision, purpose and commitment."

On Sept. 15, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations with Israel after signing controversial agreements at the White House.

The deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the accords ignore their rights and do not serve their cause.

source: News Feed
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