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Sissi hosting summit of Arab leaders, against backdrop of intensifying Iran talks

Leaders of Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Iraq and Jordan also to discuss Ukraine war-related energy and food crises, Cairo’s dispute with Ethiopia over its mega-dam on the Blue Nile

File: From left to right, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Iraqi President Barham Salih, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, prepare to meet in the presidential palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 27, 2021.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
File: From left to right, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Iraqi President Barham Salih, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, prepare to meet in the presidential palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi will host the leaders of Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for a regional summit on Tuesday, as world powers and Iran seek to end 16 months of negotiations over the revival of Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal.

El-Sissi and Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan received King Abdulla II of Jordan, Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the airport in the Mediterranean city of el-Alamein on Monday.

The UAE leader arrived at the coastal city a day earlier and held separate talks with his Egyptian counterpart that focused on ties between the regional allies, el-Sissi’s office said.

The five-party talks will focus on consolidating ties and cooperation between their countries, according to an Egyptian statement, which did not elaborate.

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi statement said the talks would discuss regional security along with energy, investment, and climate change.

Neither statement mentioned Iran and the ongoing efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers.

Iraq has hosted several rounds of talks between Iran and its regional rival Saudi Arabia, whose ties worsened considerably in 2016 when Riyadh removed its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in retaliation for the kingdom executing a prominent Shiite cleric.

President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, far right, attend the Gulf Cooperation Council July 16, 2022, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Evan Vucci, File)

There were also talks recently between Iran and Egypt as both governments explore ways to ease decades-long tensions. Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Iran were frozen after Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic Revolution.

According to the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, the summit will address the issues of “energy and food security”.

Citing a diplomatic source, the newspaper said a dispute pitting Egypt and Sudan against Ethiopia over its mega-dam on the Blue Nile would also be up for discussion.

The massive $4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be the largest hydro-electric scheme in Africa, has been at the center of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

The wars in Yemen, Syria and Libya, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict are also set to be on the agenda.

Among the meeting’s participants, Iraq is the only country not to recognize Israel.

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