Israeli Tourism Minister attends UN conference in Saudi Arabia

Historic visit comes as Riyadh sends first delegation to the occupied West Bank in three decades

Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz is attending a UN World Tourism Organisation event in Riyadh. Reuters
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Israel's Tourism Minister Haim Katz has arrived in Saudi Arabia for a UN conference, marking the first public visit to the kingdom by an Israeli cabinet member.

Mr Katz will attend a UN World Tourism Organisation event in Riyadh during the two-day visit, his ministry said. It comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia edge closer to establishing ties.

He is due to hold meetings "with his counterparts", Mr Katz's office said without specifying what countries will be represented in the talks.

"I will work to create collaborations to promote tourism and Israel's foreign relations," Mr Katz said.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia sent its first delegation to the occupied West Bank in three decades.

Nayef Al Sudairi, who was appointed non-resident ambassador to Palestine last month, held talks with senior officials including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Al Sudairi, told reporters in Ramallah that his visit "reaffirms that the Palestinian cause and Palestine and the people of Palestine are of high and important status, and that in the coming days there will be a chance for a bigger cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the state of Palestine".

The US is engaged in efforts to broker talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel to establish relations.

Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam's two holiest shrines, has long insisted on the Palestinians' right to statehood as a condition for recognising Israel - something that many members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far right coalition have long resisted.

Updated: September 26, 2023, 7:15 PM