Israeli foreign minister sees 'Abraham Accords' summit in Morocco in March

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JERUSALEM, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Monday he planned to attend a summit in March with counterparts from Arab countries that have drawn closer to Israel following a U.S.-sponsored diplomatic drive in 2020.

Cohen, who took office last week as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right coalition government, said the summit would be hosted by Morocco, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The statement did not name other countries. Israel has in the past cited Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan as belonging to the normalisation agreements dubbed the "Abraham Accords".

"Expanding the accords to other countries is not a matter of 'if' but of 'when'," said Cohen, adding that Israel's ties with current partners had yielded $2.85 billion in 2022 trade and "a significant contribution to security (and) regional stability".

Netanyahu, now in his sixth term, has voiced hope of establishing relations with Saudi Arabia, which shares Israel's worries about Iran. But Riyadh has been cool to normalisation in the absence of progress in the Palestinians' statehood drive.

The directors-general of the foreign ministries of countries participating in the March summit are scheduled to meet in Abu Dhabi next week, Cohen said.

Last March, Israel hosted the Emirati, Bahrain, Moroccan and Egyptian foreign ministers, along with the U.S. secretary of state, for an event dubbed the Negev Summit.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson

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