India, Israel, US, UAE are I2U2, summit next month

US President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his visit to West Asia from July 13 to 16.

A senior US administration official told reporters in a background call Tuesday that the new grouping will be called “I2U2” — “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.

In October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was visiting Israel. At that time, it was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’. This time, the meeting will take place at the level of heads of government/state — an upgrade.

The US official, while briefing on Biden’s visit to Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia next month, said, “The visit will also focus on Israel’s increasing integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; through deepening ties between Israel, Jordan and Egypt; and also an entirely new grouping of partners including Israel, India, UAE and the United States — what we call I2U2.”

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“We consider these initiatives central to our strategy of empowering partners and encouraging them to work more closely together, which will lead to a more stable region and also to Israel’s security and prosperity over the longer term. Secretary Blinken, just last month in the Negev in southern Israel, met with counterparts from Abraham Accord partners UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, together with Jordan and Egypt, highlighting these deepening regional partnerships,” the official said.

“Importantly, some of these new partnerships reach beyond the Middle East, and in this regard, the President will hold a virtual summit with the I2U2 heads of state for discussions of the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs,” the official said.

“The President looks forward to this unique engagement with Prime Minister Bennett of Israel, Prime Minister Modi of India and President Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE,” the official said.

The India-Israel-US-UAE grouping, which met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021, dealt with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure and transport. At that time, Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of UAE to India, had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

The Biden administration has launched or upgraded several multilateral initiatives since January 2021 including the Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia), AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) and a Quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

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