India to join UAE, US and Israel in first meeting of new 'I2U2' bloc

Grouping of powers seeks to tackle challenges to the world's economic growth

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be online to attend the first I2U2 summit that also involves the UAE, the US, and Israel. Bloomberg
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the first summit for I2U2 — a newly formed grouping of the US, Israel and the UAE to “re-energise and revitalise alliances” across the world.

US President Joe Biden’s administration will organise the online summit during his four-day visit to West Asia from July 13, where he will make stopovers in Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Modi will join the summit along with President Sheikh Mohammed, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and Mr Biden.

The quadrilateral I2U2 stands for “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.

The leaders of the grouping referred to as the West Asia Quad will discuss the global food crisis and other areas of co-operation, the White House said on Tuesday.

“The president will hold a virtual summit with the I2U2 heads of state for discussions of the food security crisis and other areas of co-operation across hemispheres where the UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs,” a White House official said at a press briefing.

“We consider these initiatives central to our strategy of empowering partners and encouraging them to work more closely together, which will lead to a more stable region,” the official said.

I2U2 was formed in October last year following the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE, to deal with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure and transport in the region.

While Israel, UAE and the US were the natural partners in the grouping, India’s inclusion came amid its strained relationship with China and a drive to broaden its global alliances.

New Delhi is also part of the Quad grouping led by the US and includes Australia and Japan.

India shares strong strategic, historic and economic ties with the Gulf states.

Mr Modi has further strengthened the alliance between India and the Gulf since coming to power in 2014.

The summit is significant as it comes at a time when the Russia-Ukraine war has continued for more than 100 days, triggering a global food crisis by disturbing food supply chains and disrupting wheat exports from both countries.

Together Russian and Ukraine provided around 20 per cent of global wheat exports before the war.

High fuel prices and subsequent inflation, emerging as the world recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic but exacerbated by the war, have also shaken the global economy.

The foreign ministers of the four nations had met in Israel in October last year when Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was visiting the country.

Mr Jaishankar and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid attended the summit in-person whereas Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attended the summit online.

Updated: July 13, 2022, 11:13 AM