Egypt’s Sisi hosts historic summit
3-way talks with UAE, Israel on energy, food and nuclear
Published: Mar 23, 2022 04:49 PM
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Aswan, Egypt, Dec. 11, 2019. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Aswan, Egypt, Dec. 11, 2019. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egypt hosted the Israeli and UAE leaders for unprecedented three-way talks Tuesday as the Ukraine war rocks energy and food markets and major powers inch toward a revived Iran nuclear deal.

The summit was held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh between Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the UAE's de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

It comes nearly a month after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that sparked concerns about security and sent prices of oil, wheat and other key commodities soaring.

Egypt, Israel and the UAE are allies of the US but they have so far avoided taking positions against Russia over its war on Ukraine.

"Against the backdrop of the recent developments in the world and the region, the leaders discussed the ties between the three countries and ways to strengthen them on all levels," said a statement from Bennett's office.

It was the first summit of its kind, and signaled "a new doctrine" of regional diplomacy championed by the UAE, said Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyid, professor of political science at Cairo University.

Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed arrived in Egypt on Monday.

At their meeting on Tuesday, the three leaders discussed "energy, market stability, and food security," Egyptian presidency spokesperson Bassam Radi said.

Israeli media said the leaders would also discuss reports that Iran and Western powers, including the US, are close to a deal to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.

Bennett is vehemently opposed to the deal which is designed to prevent Israel's arch foe Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb - a goal the Islamic republic has always denied.

The Israeli leader on Sunday appealed to the US not to remove Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations as part of a renewed deal.

Bennett also traveled to Sharm el-Sheikh in September 2021, in what was the first visit in over a decade by an Israeli head of government.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, after decades of enmity and conflict.

In 2020, the UAE became the third Arab country to forge diplomatic ties with Israel, under a series of US-brokered deals known as the Abraham Accords.

"The UAE is interested in exporting the framework of the Abraham Accords to the rest of the Middle East," Sayyid told AFP, adding the accords addressed more than "just security ties."

For Sayyid, Tuesday's meeting was the real-world application of this approach.

In contrast with Egypt, which has focused predominantly on strong military and strategic ties with Israel, the UAE has hit the ground running on robust economic relations.