Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday in the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state since the two countries established diplomatic relations last year.
The Israeli top diplomat was welcomed at Abu Dhabi Airport by Emirati Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh.
He was set to inaugurate Israel's first-ever UAE embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai during his two-day visit.
While in Dubai, Lapid was to visit the Israeli pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair, set to open in October.
He will be hosted by his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan.
Lapid posted on Twitter a picture of himself during take-off, calling the visit "historic."
The UAE, along with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, began normalizing relations with Israel last year under accords brokered by then-U.S. president Donald Trump.
No senior Israeli official visited the UAE in an official capacity since the signing of the Abraham Accords.
A scheduled visit in March by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was canceled after a dispute with Jordan that prevented use of its airspace.
Netanyahu then prevented then-foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi from visiting the UAE, with political sources saying the former prime minister intended to be the one who held the first official visit.
Lapid's visit follows his meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani in Rome earlier in the week.
In Rome, the foreign minister also met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, pto fix "the mistakes made" between the two countries over the past few years.
In their first face-to-face meeting since Israel's new government was sworn in two weeks ago, both top diplomats said they would also discuss Israel's normalization accords with Gulf Arab states.
Blinken said the U.S. supports Israel's normalization accords, but they cannot be a substitute for engaging in issues between Israelis and Palestinians.
Iran and the United States have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that imposed restrictions on Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
"We believe the way to discuss our disagreements is through direct... conversations, not in press conferences," Lapid said in his brief remarks before the meeting in Rome began.
First published: 08:23, 06.29.21