Barbara Leaf hints at Abraham Accords developments

US official who served as ambassador to UAE says President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel may herald some 'interesting things'

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , OCT 25   – 2017 :-  Barbara Leaf , US Ambassador to the UAE during the interview at the USA stand in the Najah Education Fair held at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi. (Pawan Singh / The National) Story by Roberta
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Barbara Leaf, the US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, suggested on Wednesday that President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel next month could bring new developments pertaining to the historic Abraham Accords.

Several members of Congress questioned Ms Leaf at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing about how she viewed the accords and where they may go next.

The September 2020 pact normalised relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan soon followed.

Kathy Manning, a representative from North Carolina, asked Ms Leaf about Saudi Arabia and what opportunities may exist to boost ties with Israel.

“I know from many discussions with Israeli leaders and Israeli citizens … this is the ultimate aspiration,” Ms Leaf said.

“They see this as a as a foundational point of a larger reconciliation within the region and more globally beyond with the larger Muslim community around the world.”

In response to an earlier question about the accords, Ms Leaf said: “We are working in the space that is not in the public domain with a couple of other countries. I think you'll see some interesting things around the time of the president's visit.”

On Iran, Juan Vargas, who represents California, asked Ms Leaf if there are any doubts in her mind that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

“What I can say is that the level of enrichment and the use of sensitive nuclear technology that they're pursuing has nothing to do with legitimate energy and civilian energy needs,” Ms Leaf said.

High-ranking US senators expressed pessimism last week over the possibility of restoring the Iran nuclear deal and warned of the absence of any “Plan B” if no agreement is reached.

Updated: June 22, 2022, 9:51 PM