Next month the leaders of the West Asian QUAD – India, Israel, the US and UAE will meet for the first ever virtual summit. The meeting has been called by the White House and will be addressed by the US President Joe Biden.
The virtual meet will coincide with the visit of the US President Joe Biden to West Asia – Israel and the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Jul 13-16. While in the region the first stop for the US President is going to be Israel, the West Bank and culminating with his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
According to a senior US administration official: “The President looks forward to this unique engagement with Prime Minister Bennett of Israel, with Prime Minister Modi of India, and President Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE.”
The focus of the meeting according to White House officials is going to be on the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where countries like Israel and UAE serve as innovation hubs.
Also on the agenda would be maritime security, trade and economic relations amongst the member countries.
What is I2U2?
The White House has given a new acronym to identify the new grouping as I2U2: India, Israel and UAE and the US.
The summit level meeting comes at a time even as the Russia-Ukraine war continues, and some QUAD members (India, Japan, the US and Australia) have imposed tough sanctions against Russia. As has been reported in Financial Express Online earlier, just last month the QUAD Leaders Summit took place in Tokyo where all the leaders met in person. India will be hosting the QUAD summit in 2024 and next year Australia will be the host country.
The meeting of the I2U2 leaders is being seen as one of the major dividends of the Abraham Accords. Under this accord the ties between UAE and Israel were normalized. In fact UAE was one of the first countries in the Persian Gulf to normalize its relations with Israel. India already enjoys a good, strong relationship with both UAE and Israel in West Asia and at trilateral level they have been cooperating in various sectors.
According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the UAE when he travels to Germany for the G-7 summit towards the end of June.
Since the formation of this grouping the foreign ministers of I2U2 have met. Last October during the visit of External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to Israel, the meeting took place virtually with Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of UAE and Secretary of state Antony Blinken of the US.
On President Biden’s visit to Israel, a US senior official stated that focus of the visit will be on Israel’s increasing integration into the region through deepening of ties with Egypt and Jordan and also through the Abraham Accords with UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain. Israel is also working towards strengthening ties with an entirely new grouping of partners which includes the US, India and UAE.
Recently, UAE and Israel had signed a landmark Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and as reported earlier, India and the UAE too have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which means there is further scope of deepening ties at trilateral level too.
For Israel it is the first time it has signed such an agreement with an Arab country after establishment of diplomatic ties in 2020 following the inking of Abraham Accords.