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PEACE DEAL

'Time has come to depart from conflicts, instability that afflicted Middle East for decades'

Statement comes from Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani who landed in Israel this morning for historic first-visit with Israeli, U.S. officials

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani has landed in Israel making history as the first minister from his nation to visit the Jewish state and arrives on the first-ever nonstop commercial flight between the two countries.

"(The) time has come to depart from the conflicts and instability that afflicted the Middle East for decades and pursue other policies to reach a comprehensive solution that achieves prosperity and development for all," Al Zayani said in a statement as he landed in Tel Aviv.

The foreign minister was welcomed by his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi along with other ministers and officials who said that Al Zayani's visit "marks yet another historic day in the Middle East."

"The whole region has undergone a huge positive change in the last few months and your visit here today is a symbol of the peace that all Israelis have dreamed of," Ashkenai said in a welcoming ceremony.

"You will find here in Israel many opportunities" as the two countries pursue shared visions for peace and prosperity, he said.

Ashkenazi announced that both Israel and Bahrain would soon open embassies in their respective countries.

He also welcomed the Palestinian announcement to renew ties with Israel.

"Our door is open to renew negotiation and I urge the Palestinians to come through with no preconditions and to start a dialogue," he said.

During the ceremony, Al Zayani recalled the historic visit by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat "planting seeds of peace, which we are nurturing today" almost 43 years to the day (Nov. 19, 1977).

"I believe it is fitting I am making this visit now," he said.

Bahrain is a small Gulf island nation with 1.5 million residents. With a new prime minister, the country is building a strong security alliance with other Gulf states, the U.S. and Israel against regional threats such as Iran.

Al Zayani said peace and coexistence have always been values that underpin Bahraini society and that he believes there is a "clear keenness on both sides" to make the peace agreement work.

Ashkenazi will attend a dialogue on regional security in Manama next month, making him the first Israeli minister to visit Bahrain.

Al Zayani arrived with top U.S. peace negotiator, Avi Berkowitz. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a seven-country trip to Europe and the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, lands in Israel later today. He will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Bahraini team later today for a trilateral summit.

Israel and Bahrain signed eight Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) when an Israeli delegation visited Manama last month, which were approved by the Knesset on Nov. 10.

This visit is a strategic start to enhance cooperation between Bahrain and Israel in a way that achieves their shared interests, particularly that it will contribute to launching many cooperation initiatives in various fields and will mark a starting point for other anticipated visits, he added.

“This visit is a courageous step taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain in line with the vision of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to achieve security, stability and prosperity, with the Kingdom playing its pioneering role to achieve peace in the region and in the world," Al Zayani said in a statement. "The Kingdom of Bahrain, with this historic visit to the State of Israel, confirms its policy of commitment to peace as a strategic option through which frameworks for initiatives to promote international cooperation, stability, peace and prosperity in the Middle East region are launched."

"Over the past decades, the Middle East has witnessed conflicts and instability and time has come for us to pursue other policies to reach a comprehensive solution that achieves prosperity and development for all."

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