Israel and the United Arab Emirates held secret meetings arranged by the US in recent months to share information and coordinate efforts to counter what they see as the “increasing threat posed by Iran”, Wall Street Journal quoted US officials familiar with the clandestine diplomacy as saying.
The meetings were convened by Brian Hook, the State Department’s top official for Iran, and are the latest sign of a steady thaw between Israel and Gulf Arab nations, the daily said in a report on published don Friday.
A first meeting took place this spring and a second was held more recently, WSJ reported, quoting a US official as saying.
The daily added that exact dates and locations of the unpublicized meetings couldn’t be learned, noting that their existence was known to only a handful of people within the US government.
Israel has diplomatic ties among Arab states only with Egypt and Jordan. But covert, and occasionally overt, contacts between the Zionist entity and Gulf Arab nations have increased rapidly in recent years with normalization attempts have been considerably increasing.
The discussions among US, Israeli and Emirati officials, although still in the preliminary stages, appear to indicate those contacts have gone beyond being symbolic and exploratory to mapping coordination on specific issues. They were intended to increase diplomatic, military and intelligence cooperation in dealing with Iran, the US officials said.
As head of the State Department’s Iran Action Group, Hook has worked to bring the adversaries together for secret meetings, the daily said, according to people familiar with the discussions.
“The Iran Action Group has been working with several countries to coordinate diplomatic, security and intelligence activities in response to Iran’s escalating aggression,” a senior Trump administration official said.
“These efforts have helped to pre-empt and neutralize multiple Iranian threats including terrorist and cyber operations in third countries, planned attacks against international shipping, and illegal trafficking in arms.”
The official didn’t identify, meanwhile, any specific threats that were allegedly “thwarted.”
Source: Wall Street Journal