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Israel foreign minister: 'Rail link project with Gulf states on track'

Katz has visited two Gulf states over the past year [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2019

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Israel Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said that relations with Gulf states are growing stronger.

Israel's foreign minister confirmed on Thursday that a project to connect the country with the Gulf region by rail is well underway.

"Israel is ready to promote cooperation in the region," Yisrael Katz said at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference. "This is the best way to ensure Israel's security."

The Israeli foreign minister also welcomed the warming ties with Gulf states.

The "Tracks for Regional Peace" railway project is one facet of this, an ambitious project that will link Israel, via Jordan, to the Gulf states - countries that currently do not have official diplomatic ties.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia share Israel's concerns about Iran, while the Palestine issue has also been dropped from the main foreign policy agendas of Arab states.

"We have no conflict with the Gulf States, and we have common interests in the field of security against the Iranian threat as well as in developing many joint, civilian initiatives," he added, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"Israel has a lot of capabilities in many areas, including hi-tech, innovation, agriculture and water technology, which can help the Gulf States, and the Gulf States have many capabilities that can help Israel as well."

It is not known which countries will be included in the regional railway initiative, but it is believed that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman could soon be linked to Israel.

Katz, then transport minister, attended a regional transport conference in Oman in 2018, where he presented his plan for the Middle East to be connected by rail.

He made a separate visit to the UAE earlier this year, where military and civilian matters were discussed, as well as steps towards "normalisation" - a controversial issue on the Arab street.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are also reportedly moving towards closer cooperation.

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