Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Iran tops Israel-Bahrain talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa held talks over the telephone, according to statements from both Jerusalem and Manama.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed U.S.-brokered peace deals with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September, partially  over shared concerns about Iran They later formalized relations  during the first official visit by Bahraini officials to the Jewish State in November, as part of a wider cooperation promoted by the United States to advance regional prosperity and further isolate Iran.

Netanyahu and Khalifa’s conversation stressed the importance for the “countries of the region to take part in any talks about Iran’s nuclear file,” state media in the Bahraini Kingdom announced on Twitter.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Crown Prince reissued his invitation for the Israeli leader to come to Bahrain. Earlier plans for state visits by Netanyahu to both Bahrain and the UAE were delayed due to travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, but the leaders agreed that it will take place “at the first opportunity that the morbidity will permit.”

The “Bahraini Regent also stated that he was interested in examining the possibility of Bahrain joining an investment in a vaccine manufacturing plant that is planned to be established in Israel together with other countries,” the PMO statement added.

Netanyahu is currently negotiating with the CEOs of both Pfizer and Moderna to open facilities in Israel. Jerusalem has been importing Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccines for its inoculation drive, in which it has become a world leader.

Israel expects bilateral trade with Bahrain to reach at least $220 million this year, not including additional likely defense and tourism deals.