U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated America’s support for the normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain during talks Wednesday between the two nations in Jerusalem.
Before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani about Israel’s recent agreements normalizing relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Pompeo said the agreements “tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that their influence in the region is waning and that they are ever more isolated and shall forever be until they change their direction.”
Bahrain and Israel said they would open embassies, develop online visa systems and begin weekly flights between the countries.
Alzayani, who led Bahrain’s first official visit to Israel, said normalization brings “a warm peace that will deliver clear benefits to our peoples.”
Netanyahu said Alzayani’s first visit to Israel “marks another important milestone on the road to peace between our two countries and peace in the region. The peace between Israel and Bahrain is built on solid foundations of mutual appreciation and shared interest.”
During his visit to Israel, Pompeo is expected to go to a settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Most of the international community views the settlements as a violation of international law and a barrier in reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In a reversal of a decades-old position, Pompeo said last year that the United States did not view the settlements as “inconsistent with international law.”
Pompeo’s trip to Israel is the latest stop of his multination tour visiting allies in Europe and the Middle East.
He held talks earlier Wednesday in Tbilisi with Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, followed by a session with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani. Pompeo expressed support for Georgia’s sovereignty and strengthening democratic institutions.
“U.S. cooperation with Georgia is of paramount importance, and our support for Georgia’s sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation is unwavering,” Pompeo tweeted after the meetings.
Russia has occupied Georgia’s two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia since a brief 2008 war.
Gakharia called U.S.-Georgia relations his country’s “most important partnership” and said Georgia appreciates U.S. support of its territorial integrity.
The U.S. State Department said Pompeo’s focus included urging further progress in democratic reforms in Georgia. At the start of his meeting with Gakharia and Zalkaliani, Pompeo cited the need for free and fair elections, as well as the opportunity for robust debate.
The rest of Pompeo’s trip includes stops in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.