UAE, US, Israel and India meet to boost four-way co-operation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in meeting with regional counterparts

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, October 18, 2021 in the Treaty Room of the State Dept. , in Washington. AP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his counterparts from the UAE, India and Israel in a first-of-its-kind conference on Monday as the nations work to strengthen their four-way ties.

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and India's Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar attended Monday's meeting.

In a statement, the State Department said the meeting focused on expanding economic and political co-operation in the Middle East and Asia.

Such expansion would be "through trade, combating climate change, energy co-operation and increasing maritime security," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

During the meeting, Mr Blinken reiterated the Biden administration's support for the Abraham Accords.

Last week, the first trilateral summit between the UAE and Israel was held in Washington, during which the formation of working groups on religious co-existence, water and energy issues was announced.

Mohammed Soliman, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, saw Monday’s meeting as augmenting the rise of the “Indo-Abrahamic bloc".

“This meeting stems from consequential geopolitical moves: the Abraham Accords and the realignment between Israel and India,” Mr Soliman, author of an Indo-Abrahamic alliance study published in July, told The National.

“Regional actors understand that because of the US pivot to the Indo-Pacific, they need to build their own regional security architecture while capitalising on India’s centrality.”

India’s Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is currently visiting Foreign Minister Lair Yapid. The trip is the highest level for New Delhi to Israel since Naftali Bennett became prime minister in June.

Alon Ushpiz, director of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs, told The Times of India that the visit looked to incorporate India into emerging opportunities in the region while investing in the Abraham Accords.

Asked about the US interest in participating in these talks, Mr Soliman pointed to efforts to counter China.

“The Abraham Accords allows regional actors such as the UAE and Israel to act in unison when it comes to global challenges … while allowing Washington to do more [while doing] less in the Middle East,” he said.

He argued that co-ordinating on mutual security challenges such as cyber, maritime, 5G and missile defence are all incentives for the US to invest in a bloc between Middle Eastern partners and a rising Asia-Pacific.

The US has launched alliances around the four-way dialogues before, notably the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) which Washington formed in 2007 and includes India, Japan and Australia.

Mr Biden last month hosted the Quad leaders in Washington.

Updated: October 19, 2021, 8:09 AM