WASHINGTON-The Trump administration will send two top officials to the Middle East this week in an effort to capitalize on momentum from the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic relations.
Three diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner plan to make separate, multiplenation visits to the region in the coming days to push Arab-Israeli rapprochement in the aftermath of the Israel-UAE deal.
Pompeo was expected to depart on Sunday for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Sudan, according to the diplomats, a Sudanese government official confirmed on Sunday that Pompeo is to visit his country in the coming days.
Kushner plans to leave later in the week, according to sources.
Neither trip is expected to result in announcements of immediate breakthroughs, the diplomats said, although both are aimed at finalizing at least one, and potentially more, normalization deals with Israel in the near future.
Intra-Afghan peace talks
Pompeo also plans to meet with members of the Taliban in Qatar to discuss intra-Afghan peace talks that are key to the withdrawal of the remaining US forces in Afghanistan, the diplomats said.
The White House and State Department had no comment on the planned trips, which will come as the administration steps up efforts to push for Arab-Israeli normalization even without a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
They also come as the administration has taken the controversial step of triggering the restoration of all international sanctions on Iran, something that only Israel and the Gulf Arab nations have publicly supported.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced on Aug 13 that they would establish full diplomatic relations, in a deal that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians.
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is the first Gulf state to establish ties with Israel, in a deal that came amid rising tensions with Iran.
Agencies via Xinhua