WASHINGTON: The Trump administration will send two top officials to the Middle East this week in a bid to capitalize on momentum from the historic agreement between Israel and the UAE to establish diplomatic relations.
Three diplomats say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner plan to make separate, multiple-nation visits to the region in the coming days to push Arab-Israeli rapprochement in the aftermath of the Israel-UAE deal.
Pompeo is expected to depart on Sunday for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Sudan, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the itinerary has not yet been finalized or publicly announced. Kushner plans to leave later in the week for Israel, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco, the diplomats said.
Neither trip is expected to result in announcements of immediate breakthrough, the diplomats said, although both are aimed at finalizing at least one, and potentially more, normalization deals with Israel in the near future.
Pompeo also plans to meet in Qatar with members of the Talban to discuss intra-Afghan peace talks that are key to the withdrawal of remaining US forces in Afghanistan, the diplomats said.
The White House and State Department had no comment on the planned trips, which will come as the administration steps up efforts to push for Arab-Israeli normalization even without a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
They also come as the administration has taken the step of triggering the restoration of all international sanctions on Iran.
Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 they would establish full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians.
The historic agreement delivered a key foreign policy victory to Trump as he seeks re-election.
US and Israeli officials have suggested that more Arab nations may soon follow the UAE’s lead.