By Rami Ayyub
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met senior ministers from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in New York on Sunday, his office said, ahead of an address to the United Nations in which he is expected to urge action against Iran’s nuclear programme.
Israel has trumpeted its new diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain, brokered by Washington last year, as having helped create a regional bulwark against their shared foe, Iran.
During his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday Bennett is expected to call for action against Tehran’s atomic activities to ensure that it does not produce weapons.
Tehran denies pursuing atomic weaponry. It has been negotiating with world powers to revive a 2015 deal that curbed its uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
During his meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minster Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, Bennett said Israel hoped to strengthen relations with both countries.
“We are stable and we believe in this relationship, and we want to expand it as much as possible,” Bennett’s said in a statement released by his office.
To Israel’s delight, in 2018 then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions, crippling Iran’s economy and prompting Iran to take steps to violate its nuclear limits.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration started indirect talks with Tehran in Vienna on salvaging the agreement, but those stopped after hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president in June.
Iran’s foreign minister on Friday estimated talks would start again “very soon”, but gave no specific date.