As we approach the holy month of Ramadan this weekend, we welcome the proactive diplomacy that is underway with our friends and partners across the Middle East region. These efforts are central to President Biden’s agenda to create a more secure and integrated Middle East region through a combination of anti-adversary deterrence and diplomacy wherever possible to ease tensions and de-escalate ongoing conflicts.
That approach was evident this week.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Blinken attended a historic meeting in Israel along with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. This group of countries agreed to form permanent working groups with the aim of improving security and livelihoods across the region. We now want to further expand this circle of like-minded countries. Today’s conclusion of a free trade agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is an example of the new opportunities emerging in the region that our government is working to facilitate and strengthen.
Minister Blinken also visited Ramallah, where he reaffirmed President Biden‘s determination to do everything we can to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians share equal levels of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity. Later in the week, King Abdullah II hosted the first-ever visit to Jordan by an Israeli leader, President Isaac Herzog. We are grateful for the visionary role of these leaders and for the important role King Abdullah II plays as custodian of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, especially during the upcoming Holy Days.
We also stand by our friends who are threatened by terrorists, as was seen in Israel last week. Speaking to Prime Minister Bennett on Wednesday, President Biden offered all appropriate assistance in the wake of these barbaric attacks on innocent civilians. Our entire government stands behind our Israeli allies as they work to counter threats to their citizens.
Ending the war in Yemen has been a constant focus of our government over the past year. Today, after months of relentless UN-led diplomacy supported by the United States and our partners, the UN special envoy to Yemen announced a 60-day ceasefire, under which military operations will be halted and the movement of goods and people to and from the United States be restricted from Yemen Yemen will relax. President Biden welcomed this initiative and commended the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Oman for their support in completing it. We hope that this initiative will create a new basis for political talks and a lasting solution to end the suffering of the Yemeni people once and for all.
Even as we work to end the war in Yemen, there is no doubt about President Biden’s commitment to supporting the defenses of our partners, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department announced significant new sanctions against Iran‘s missile procurement network under Executive Order 13382, which targets WMD proliferators and their supporters. We will continue to use all appropriate authorities to hold Iran and its proxy groups accountable for threats against our friends and partners.
As last week has shown, diplomacy creates opportunities to secure a more peaceful and prosperous region, even as we work to deter and deter threats to our partners and interests. The United Stands will stand with their friends – and we hope that the upcoming holy month of Ramadan will bring comfort and peace to people across the Middle East region.