Egypt’s FM to join meeting with Lapid, Blinken, Abraham Accord signatories in Israel’s Negev

Ahram Online , AFP , AP , Sunday 27 Mar 2022

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will join a meeting in Israel’s Negev with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their counterparts from Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, AFP and AP reported.

Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

On his Twitter account, Lapid called the Negev summit, which extends to Monday, “a historic diplomatic summit.” He displayed the flags of Egypt, the first Arab country to recongise Israel in 1977, as well as of Morocco, UAE, and Bahrain, three of the four countries that signed Abraham Accords with Israel in 2020.

Lapid’s announcement gave no details about the agenda. However, US officials said quelling Israel's worries about a looming nuclear deal with Iran and discussing the potential global wheat shortage caused by the Ukraine war will top the agenda.

Supply chains of grain from the Black Sea ports to the Middle East and North Africa region have been disrupted by the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly 30 percent of the world's wheat exports.

The war, which started on 24 February, caused soaring prices in the international markets and triggering inflationary pressures all over the world, including Egypt.

The goal of the Negev meeting is to bring together moderate Arab partners to discuss a vision for “how the region moves forward'' together with the US, an official involved in the planning of the summit was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.

The meeting comes while Israel and Arab countries both share concerns about Iran’s hostile military actions across the region with signals mount that the tattered 2015 landmark deal Tehran signed with major powers will soon be restored.

Israel fears the deal does not include enough safeguards to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Both Israel and its Gulf allies also believe that relief from economic sanctions will allow Iran to step up its military activities across the region, including support for hostile militant groups.

The gathering comes while the Iran-backed Houthi militia has also stepped up its military attacks against Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the past months in a threat to security and stability of the two Arab countries, which are leading a military coalition in Yemen.

Last week, El-Sisi held a meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh city with bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, where they discussed energy, market stability, and food security.

The summit also comes shortly after Jordan’s King Abdullah II hosted Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Iraq's Prime Minister Moustafa Al-Kadhimi in the port city of Aqaba on Friday.

The Aqaba meeting exchanged views on international and regional political and economic situations, including means of dealing with the repercussions of the current global economic circumstances on food security, energy and trade sectors in a manner that preserves regional stability and security.

The Iraqi prime minister's office said that the meeting dealt with ways of strengthening joint Arab action in various fields, especially in mitigating the impacts of the economic crisis in the food security and energy sectors.

Egypt, Jordan and Iraq have held high-level meetings over the past year to review means of resuming the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, including a summit between the leaders of the three countries in Iraq last June.

Egypt, which brokered a ceasefire in May between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza to end 11 days of Israeli aggression on the enclave, also hosted a summit with Jordan and Palestine in September to discuss the revival of the long-frozen talks.

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