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VIDEO1:1901:19Emirati minister says the UAE and Israel have much to learn from each otherCapital Connection

SINGAPORE — The Middle East will benefit from the bilateral deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Emirati minister of economy said this week.

"Both nations will bring different mindsets to the table, different advantages, and I think the whole region will benefit from this agreement," Abdulla bin Touq told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Wednesday.

 His comments follow a ceremony at the White House where Bahrain and the UAE held a signing ceremony with Israel.

In August, the UAE became the third Arab country to open diplomatic ties with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal. Bahrain followed, normalizing relations last week. Egypt and Jordan established normal ties with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

Iran, Turkey and the Palestinians have condemned the UAE and Bahrain for establishing relations with Israel. 

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L to R) attend a signing ceremony for the agreements on "normalization of relations" reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House in Washington.The White House | Shealah Craighead | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Bin Touq said his country and Israel will learn from each other now that an "overarching agreement" is in place. "All the other agreements are going to come in place, from aviation, from logistics and from technology."

"They're learning from us about logistics and hubs, and learning from us about tourism and connectivity," he said. "We're going to learn from them a lot on ... the energy and water and space as well. These are the areas that we're actually very excited on."

Israel's newly normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain are in line with the three countries' shared rivalry with Iran.

The agreements do not address Israel's long-running conflict with the Palestinians. On Tuesday, the same day the countries held their ceremony at the White House, Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel. The Israeli military then launched airstrikes on Gaza on Wednesday.

William Wechsler of the Atlantic Council warned in a blog post last week of further instability in the Middle East as Bahrain and the UAE work openly with Israel to counter "non-Arab regional powers." He specifically cited Iran, Turkey and Russia.

"This new regional geopolitics is likely to be even less stable than even the dangerous one to which we have become accustomed, with a larger number of actors and a more uncertain future," Wechsler wrote in a note online. He is the director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council.

— CNBC's Ted Kemp contributed to this report.

Related Tags
  • Middle East
  • Diplomacy
  • United States
  • Bahrain
  • United Arab Emirates

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Austrian minister to Trump: No, we do not live in forests

BERLIN – The Austrian government has spoken up to correct U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that people in its country live in "forest cities."

Trump recently cited Austria and other European countries as models of good forest management that U.S. states like California, which has seen devastating wildfires lately, should learn from.

Calling in to Fox News on Tuesday, Trump said, “You look at countries, Austria, you look at so many countries. They live in the forest, they’re considered forest cities. So many of them. And they don’t have fires like this. And they have more explosive trees.”

In an article Thursday for the London-based Independent, Austria's agriculture minister sought to set the record straight.

“There have been both serious and humorous conversations on social media about the ‘exploding trees’ (Trump) mentioned, as well as the fact that he claimed we live within ‘forest cities’ which never catch fire,” Elisabeth Koestinger wrote. “As Austrians, fortunately blessed with a healthy sense of humour, we normally take such clichés about our country in our stride.”

“However, the gravity of current events make Trump’s words much more worrying — after all, right at this moment, thousands of people are fighting horrendous wildfires in life-or-death situations,” she said.

“In reality, Austria is a country situated in the heart of Europe, where people do not live in the forest, but rather with the forest and in a close, sustainable relationship with the natural environment,” Koestinger wrote.

Sustainable management of forests, which cover almost half the nation's territory, is important, she added, but not because they're more combustible.

“To clarify: No, we don’t have any exploding trees in Austria,” Koestinger said, though she did confirm Trump's assertion that “we have found a way to give our trees the space they need.”

“This does not make us ‘forest people,’ but shows how important understanding our environment and our natural resources is,” she said, adding that “taking climate change seriously and mitigating its effects is a huge part of this.”

Trump caused mirth in Finland two years ago, when he claimed the Nordic nation spends “ a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things” to clear forest floors to prevent fires.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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