New Delhi: Benny Gantz, Defence Minister of Israel met his Bahraini counterpart Abdulla bin Hasan Al Nuaimi in Bahrain’s capital city Manama on Thursday and sealed a defence deal. The pact between both the countries is being seen as a step further in strengthening their ties since coming close in 2020, reports Associated Press (AP).
Israeli Defence Minister has called the agreement “a new high point” in the relationship that the two countries share. Ha also said that the deal will provide a sense of security to other countries in the region. Adding further, Benny Gantz said the agreement will “help advance intelligence cooperation, a framework for exercises” and strengthen military ties between the two countries, reported AP.
Earlier, both the defence ministers visited the US Navy’s 5th Fleet headquarters, which is strategically located in the Persian Gulf country Bahrain.
The visit holds importance as it comes at a time of growing tensions in the Gulf that are being fuelled by Iran’s international nuclear deal and the civil war going on in Yemen. Israel and the U.S.A have charged Iran with attacking several ships in the Gulf, including Israeli-linked cargo carriers. Along with that, Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, launched a series of missile strikes at the UAE. Israel also acknowledged advancing the naval operations in the Red Sea as it is an important waterway.
During the meet, both the leaders discussed strengthening cooperation in the volatile region. Last year, the U.S moved Israel from its European Command into its Central Command which oversees the Middle East, after it improved its ties with Arab nations. Gantz informed that Israel’s cooperation with the 5th Fleet has increased over the past year and said, “This strategic cooperation is critical in facing developing challenges in the region.” He further added, “Deepening cooperation will enable us to maintain regional stability and to defend the common interests of Israel, the United States and Bahrain.”
The two countries, Israel and Bahrain had maintained secretive security ties for years keeping in mind their shared concern of Iran. The countries have signed a series of agreements opened embassies, established direct flights and business ties, ever since the agreement was approved.
(With agency inputs)