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Negev Summit countries to hold first follow-up meeting in Manama on Monday

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Closing their talks at the Negev Summit, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, left, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph Monday, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Closing their talks at the Negev Summit, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, left, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph Monday, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

The first meeting of the Negev Summit Steering Committee is slated to take place tomorrow in Bahrain, the Foreign Ministry announces.

The meeting in Manama is a formalization of commitments made at the March Negev Summit to turn the meeting into an ongoing forum, says Oded Joseph, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Division, in a phone briefing to Israeli reporters.

Senior officials from the foreign ministries of Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Morocco, and the US will attend. Israel will be represented by Joseph and Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert will lead the US delegation.

Joseph says it is no coincidence that the meeting will take place shortly before US President Joe Biden’s July 13-16 visit to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

The countries will decide on how the six working groups agreed on during the summit will operate, and aim to produce a memorandum detailing what they determine on Monday.

The working groups will deal with regional security, food and water security, energy, health, education and tolerance and tourism. Each of the six countries will head a working group, which will meet two or three times a year.

Jordan, which stayed away from the Negev Summit, were not invited to Manama, but will be asked to attend next year’s summit. Still, says Joseph, many countries around the world are interested in participating in Negev Summit initiatives. As an example, he pointed at Germany’s interest in water security projects.

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