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West Asian Quad to be upgraded to summit level during Biden’s Israel visit | World News

NEW DELHI: The new grouping formed last year by India, Israel, the UAE and the US will be upgraded to the summit level during US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia next month through the holding of a virtual meeting of heads of state.

The grouping, which was given the name International Forum for Economic Cooperation and is commonly known as the “West Asian Quad”, was an outcome of the Abraham Accords that paved the way for trilateral collaboration between India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Biden will hold a virtual summit with the heads of state of the West Asian Quad while in Israel, the first stop of his visit during July 13-16 that will also take him to Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

A senior US administration official told a media briefing that Biden’s visit will focus on Israel’s increasing integration into the region, including through the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain, and the new grouping of Israel, India, the UAE and the US, which the official referred to as “I2U2”.

Biden’s virtual summit with the I2U2 heads of state will discuss the “food security crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs”, the official said.

“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 and also to Israel’s security and prosperity over the longer term,” the official said.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken, recently met his counterparts from the Abraham Accord partners UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, together with Jordan and Egypt, during a visit to Israel last month, highlighting the deepening regional partnerships.

The official said some of these new partnerships reach beyond the Middle East and Biden “looks forward to this unique engagement with Prime Minister [Naftali] Bennett of Israel, with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi of India, and President Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE”.

The “West Asian Quad” was established as a forum for economic cooperation during a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the four nations last October. The four countries have said there is no military angle to their cooperation and they are pursuing a constructive agenda focused on the economy, especially infrastructure projects.

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