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Herzog, ministers meet new UAE leader during condolence visit to Abu Dhabi

President hails his counterpart Mohamed bin Zayed for normalizing ties with Israel: ‘Together we will advance and strengthen the prosperous ties of peace’

President Isaac Herzog meets his new UAE counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to pay his condolences on the passing of the Gulf state's late leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 15, 2022. (President's Office)
President Isaac Herzog meets his new UAE counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to pay his condolences on the passing of the Gulf state's late leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 15, 2022. (President's Office)

President Isaac Herzog on Sunday met with new UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi to pay his condolences following the death of the Gulf state’s leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

“He left behind him a legacy of progress and friendship between the nations of the region and of striving for peace in the Middle East,” Herzog was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

Herzog also congratulated the new leader on his selection as president.

“You are continuing the path of your brother, in that you brought about a dramatic change following the Abraham Accords you signed with the State of Israel and other countries,” Herzog said, referring to the series of US-backed normalization deals inked in 2020.

“I believe that together we will advance and strengthen the prosperous ties of peace, between us and our countries,” he added.

Herzog, who returned to Israel after a few hours, was accompanied on the trip to Abu Dhabi by Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej.

The visit was the president’s second to the UAE since he took office last year.

World leaders began descending on the United Arab Emirates on Sunday following the passing of 73-year-old Sheikh Khalifa last week after battling an illness for several years.

Sunday’s guest list included Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, French President Emanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, German President Frank Walter Steinmeier, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

US President Joe Biden announced that an American delegation led by US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the UAE on Monday. The delegation was also set to include US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, climate envoy John Kerry, CIA chief Bill Burns, senior National Security Council officials Brett McGurk and Barbara Leaf, as well as Harris’s National Security adviser, Phillip Gordon.

Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan attends a ceremonial welcome for his state visit in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London, on April 30, 2013. (Dan Kitwood / POOL / AFP)

Under Sheikh Mohamed’s low-key direction, the wealthy UAE has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East, forging ties with Israel and joining a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

The UAE on Friday announced a 40-day period of mourning and a three-day suspension of work in all ministries and the private sector beginning Friday, including flags to be flown at half-staff.

The late head of state was rarely seen in public since a stroke in January 2014, and the country has largely been ruled by MBZ.

MBZ led the country’s normalization process with Israel in 2020.

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