Bahraini, Israeli defence ministers hold first phone call

FILE PHOTOT: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting of the new government at the Chagall Hall in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - The defence ministers of Bahrain and Israel held their first publicly acknowledged phone call on Monday since their countries agreed to normalise ties.

Bahraini state news agency BNA and a spokeswoman for Israel’s defence ministry said Bahrain’s minister of defence affairs, Abdulla bin Hassan Al-Nuaimi, and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz had spoken as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates prepare to sign agreements with Israel in Washington on Tuesday.

The ministers discussed the importance of the agreement for regional stability and “common expectations for establishing a close partnership between the two defence ministries,” the BNA statement said.

Gantz invited the Bahraini minister to make an official visit to Israel, and the two agreed to continue their dialogue, a statement from Gantz’s office said.

Earlier on Monday, BNA said Bahrain’s industry and trade minister and Israel’s regional cooperation minister had spoken by phone and discussed trade, industry and tourism cooperation between the two countries.

Normalization will “positively impact both countries’ economies”, BNA said.

Reporting by Maher Chmeytelli and Dan Williams, Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Toby Chopra and Timothy Heritage