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Mike Pompeo arrives in Israel to start Middle East tour

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel on Monday as part of his five-day Middle East tour, days after the UAE announced it was normalizing ties with Israel.

Pompeo, wearing a face mask in the colors of the US flag, was due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in coming days also visit Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE, the State Department said.

Washington and its close ally Israel hope that the Jewish state will soon be able to normalize ties with other regional countries, including several that share their deep animosity with Iran.

In Jerusalem, Pompeo and Netanyahu were due to discuss “regional security issues related to Iran’s malicious influence” and “establishing and deepening Israel’s relationships in the region,” the State Department said.

Netanyahu said Sunday he and Pompeo would talk about “expanding the circle of peace in our region … We’re working on peace with more countries, and I think there will be more countries — and in the not-so-distant future.”

Israel had previously only signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which unlike the UAE share borders with Israel and had technically been at war with the Jewish state.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, announced in January, forsees cooperation between Israel and those Arab countries which, like Israel, see Iran as their main foe and accuse it of fuelling regional conflicts.

The pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom said on Sunday that direct talks with the UAE on the wording of the deal were close to starting and that “a full agreement could be reached within a month” with a signing at the White House.

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