THE LATEST: Biden seeks to ‘integrate’ Israel into the Middle East

JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — The latest on US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East (all times local):

JERUSALEM – President Joe Biden says he is working to promote Israel’s burgeoning ties with Arab partners in the Middle East.

The US president spoke after meeting with Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“I talked about how important it was, from my perspective, for Israel to be fully integrated into the region,” Biden said.

Under the Trump administration, Israel reached diplomatic agreements with four Arab countries known as the Abraham Accords.

Biden hopes to build on those nascent ties as he heads to Saudi Arabia to meet with Gulf partners this weekend. The ties are largely based on shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and military activities throughout the region.

Lapid described Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia as “extremely important for Israel.”

Biden also appeared to give Lapid, who hopes to win a full term in the November election, a boost. “We got off to a good start to a long relationship, God willing,” Biden said.

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JERUSALEM — The United Arab Emirates is investing $2 billion to launch food processing centers in India that will use climate-smart technologies to help reduce waste and conserve fresh water.

The initiative was announced Thursday ahead of the first virtual meeting of leaders of I2U2, a new grouping of Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, which seeks to spur joint investments in water, energy, transportation, food security and more.

India will provide land for the project. US and Israeli private companies are invited to lend their expertise to the project which the group says will help maximize crop yields. The group has set itself the primary goal of addressing food insecurity in the South and Middle East.

President Joe Biden is participating in the video conference from Israel, where he is on the second day of a whirlwind visit to the Middle East.

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JERUSALEM – United States President Joe Biden has started a personal meeting in Jerusalem with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Their talks are the centerpiece of a 48-hour visit by the US president aimed at strengthening already close relations between the two countries.

The leaders are expected to sign a joint statement emphasizing military cooperation as well as their commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The engagements with Israel could carry significant symbolic importance ahead of Biden’s meeting this weekend with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as he seeks to strengthen a regional alliance against Iran.

Thursday’s meeting also provides a boost to Lapid, who is Israel’s interim prime minister until elections in November. Lapid’s main opponent is former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his joint appearance with Biden could help burnish his credentials as a statesman and leader.

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