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UAE, Israeli companies sign 'strategic commercial agreement' on coronavirus R&D

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Emirati APEX National Investment company signed a “strategic commercial agreement” with Israel’s Tera Group to cooperate on research and development related to COVID-19, including a testing device, the UAE’s state news agency WAM said late on Saturday.

The deal “is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors, for the benefit of serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the novel Coronavirus,” WAM quoted APEX’s chairman Khalifa Yousef Khoury as saying.

The agreement was signed at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, coming soon after Israel and the UAE announced an agreement on Thursday that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states.

“The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus,” the two countries said on Thursday in a joint statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump helped broker the deal, under which Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank.

Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues, the joint statement said.

“TeraGroup’s BioSafety testing is conducted in selected countries around the world, including the Emirates Field Hospital in Abu Dhabi, with plans to expand the testing to cover the entire UAE,” WAM said.

In June, the UAE had said two private companies from the United Arab Emirates and two Israeli companies would work together on medical projects, including ones to combat the new coronavirus.

Two state-owned Israeli defense contractors in July announced partnerships with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 to develop technologies to help fight the new coronavirus.

Reporting by Nayera Abdallah; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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