Official on Pompeo mission to the Middle East says U.S. ready to help Bahrain establish ties with Israel.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued his whirlwind mission to the Middle East Thursday, meeting in Oman for talks with leaders there to determine the level of interest in establishing ties with Israel.
Pompeo met with Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al Said to discuss “the importance of building regional peace, stability, and prosperity through a united Gulf Cooperation Council,” he tweeted afterwards.
It was the fifth stop for Pompeo on a trip that also took him to Israel, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Pompeo is pushing to build on the U.S.-mediated Abraham Accords announced by President Trump on August 13 in which the UAE and Israel will establish diplomatic relations.
On Wednesday, Pompeo held talks in Bahrain where a senior State Department official said the U.S. was ready to assist that country to normalize ties with Israel.
“If we can help facilitate normalization with Bahrain we’re ready,” the official said.
Following Trump’s announcement earlier this month both Bahrain and Oman responded positively, but stopped short of saying that would join the UAE in recognizing Israel.
“I think that UAE’s decision creates a climate that makes it easier for another country to follow, and more countries after that,” the State Department official said.
Bahrain and Oman both have close ties with the U.S., with a large U.S. Navy base located in Bahrain hosting the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, as well as a British naval facility.
“The United Arab Emirates made history with the Abraham Accords and now we have to keep the momentum going. It has been a productive journey to advance peace and prosperity,” Pompeo tweeted.
Following talks earlier with UAE leaders, an unnamed American official told the Emirates WAM news agency that there were “incredibly positive conversations going on” between the U.S., Israel and UAE with regard to selling F-35 warplanes to the Gulf state, a move opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“With respect to the F-35 or any military hardware or infrastructure, I keep reminding people that it is important to know that the UAE and U.S.’s military and security relationship is robust and has been there for decades. Since the Gulf War, the United States had sold military aircraft and hardware, F-16s, and others to the UAE,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Ortagus emphasized that during his earlier talks in Israel with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Pompeo had been “pretty firm in his commitment to both the UAE and Israel.”