Israeli Foreign Minister Katz meets Bahrani counterpart in Washington

Katz is currently in Washington taking part in a State Department Conference on religious freedom that brought together some 1,000 leaders from around the world.

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July 19, 2019 13:30
2 minute read.
Israeli Foreign Minister Katz meets Bahrani counterpart in Washington

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz in Oman.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz met publicly with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled al-Ahmad al-Khalifa in Washington on Thursday, the second time he has met with a senior Arab official in two weeks and an indication of a greater willingness to make these meetings public.

Katz is currently in Washington taking part in a State Department Conference on religious freedom that brought together some 1,000 leaders from around the world.


The meeting with Khalifa took place at a State Department reception. According to Katz’s office, the meeting – and the joint picture – were put together behind the scenes by State Department officials.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the two men discussed Iran, joint cooperation and regional threats, and agreed to maintain contact.

Katz, the ministry said, recently agreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on setting normalization with Arab countries as an Israeli foreign policy goal, with the hope of signing peace agreements with the Persian Gulf countries in the next few years.

Last month, Bahrain hosted the US-sponsored “Peace to Prosperity” talks, and – for the first time – allowed Israeli journalists into the country, including from The Jerusalem Post. The Post reported earlier this week on speculation that Katz would meet Arab leaders during his trip to Washington.

Last month, Katz took part in a UN meeting on the environment in Abu Dhabi, with diplomatic officials saying he met with a senior United Arab Emirates official. In November, as transportation minister, he attended a transportation conference in Oman.

US Middle East mediator Jason Greenblatt was among the first to release a photo of Katz together with Khalifa, tweeting a picture of the two in a “friendly exchange” and writing: “terrific progress in Washington this week for Israel, Bahrain & the region.”

Meanwhile, Khalifa announced a day earlier that his country will host a conference to address Iranian threats to naval security in the Gulf, The National – a UAE based newspaper – reported on Wednesday.

Bahrain is concerned about the security of cargo ships, as petrol is vital to its economy and interests.

This meeting, Khalifa said, would probably take place in the fall and be a follow up to a February conference about Iran in Warsaw that Israel took part in, along with 65 other countries – including a number of Arab countries.

Khalifa announced the upcoming conference alongside US special representative for Iran Brian Hook at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

The US is currently attempting to construct a coalition, called the Sentinel Program, to “make it harder for Iran to disrupt freedom of commerce and navigation,” Hook said.

Khalifa was clear that his country is not seeking a regime change in Iran and is willing to promote good relations with Tehran. “If the Islamic republic takes a step forward, we will take two,” he said.

It is not clear yet which countries will attend the conference, though if it follows the Warsaw framework, then Israel should be invited.


Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the report.


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