MANAMA, Bahrain – Israel and Bahrain signed an agreement on establishing diplomatic relations with Manama on Sunday, a month after a historic White House ceremony.
Why it matters: “Joint communication in the promotion of peaceful and diplomatic relations” is a temporary agreement on the path to a comprehensive peace agreement, allowing the two countries to open embassies and sign further cooperation agreements.
The state of play: Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House commissioner Avi Berkowitz attended the signing with Bahrain’s foreign minister and Israeli security adviser.
- Mnuchin and Berkowitz arrived in Manama with an Israeli delegation on the first direct flight of an Israeli airliner to Bahrain ̵1; El Al Flight 973, a reference to the Bahrain telephone code.
- Israeli and Bahraini officials conducted long hours of talks and inked eight memorabilia (MOUs) on visas, goods, agriculture, investment, direct flights, finance and investment. .
- Mnuchin stood as officials signed the MOU in conjunction with the diplomatic relations agreement.
What they are saying: “Today is just a first step for Israel, Bahrain and the US and an important step for strengthening stability in the region. We have great opportunities in security, in trade, in travel and in other fields,” Mnuchin said.
What’s next: Minutes after the signing ceremony, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official gave a Bahraini foreign minister a diplomatic note with a formal request for the opening of an Israeli embassy in Manama. Israeli officials told me they wanted to open a new embassy before the end of the year.
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