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Israeli PM, UAE crown prince in Egypt for diplomatic talks

Israeli PM, UAE crown prince in Egypt for diplomatic talks

CAIRO (AP) — Israel's prime minister and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi were in Egypt for meetings with its president on Monday, officials said, including discussions on the repercussions of the war in Ukraine.

The previously unannounced meetings came as Israel seeks to mediate between warring Russia and Ukraine. Egypt and the UAE have grown relationships with Russia in past years, though both joined a U.N. General Assembly vote calling on it to stop its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Egyptian and Israeli officials confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was in Egypt to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. An Egyptian official said the three also discussed a range of regional topics, including the Iran nuclear talks, as negotiations continue to restore Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to brief media on the matter.

Emirati state news reported that Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, had arrived in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh and was met by el-Sissi at its airport.

It was the second time in roughly six months that Bennett and el-Sissi have met for talks, a sign of a warming relationship. Last time, the two leaders also sat down together in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Bennett’s trip to meet el-Sissi in September was the first official visit by an Israeli premier since 2010, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hosted a summit with Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Less than a year later, Egypt was rocked by a popular uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Egypt was the first Arab country to reach a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 but only after the two countries fought four wars.

The UAE meanwhile normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of a series of U.S.-brokered diplomatic agreements with Arab countries that also included Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Israel and the UAE have long shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes, while Israel, which considers Iran its greatest enemy, says it will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

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Kellman reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.