Food, fuel crisis to be in focus at I2U2 summit

Published on Jul 12, 2022 12:24 AM IST

Leaders of India, Israel, the UAE and the US are expected to discuss the global food and fuel crisis and give greater shape to joint activities and plans this week at the first virtual summit of the I2U2 grouping that was formed last year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, United Arab Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan and US president Joe Biden for the virtual summit of I2U2 on July 14, people familiar with the matter said. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, United Arab Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan and US president Joe Biden for the virtual summit of I2U2 on July 14, people familiar with the matter said. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

Leaders of India, Israel, the UAE and the US are expected to discuss the global food and fuel crisis and give greater shape to joint activities and plans this week at the first virtual summit of the I2U2 grouping that was formed last year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, United Arab Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan and US president Joe Biden for the virtual summit of I2U2 – the new name for the grouping derived from the first letters in the names of the countries – on July 14, people familiar with the matter said.

The summit is being held during Biden’s visit to Israel as part of a four-day tour of west Asia. Besides the I2U2 Summit, Biden will also participate in an in-person summit in Jeddah of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) + 3, which will bring together leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE plus Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

While the global energy crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine is set to figure in both meetings, the I2U2 Summit is expected to give greater shape to the grouping’s agenda focused on economic cooperation and infrastructure projects, the people cited above said. This could include specific projects or initiatives to be taken up by what has been described in some quarters as the “West Asian Quad”.

Ahead of Biden’s visit, a senior US administration official said the president will discuss “the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs”. The official also said Biden’s visit will be an opportunity to set the foundation for a “more integrated, more cooperative, more stable region down the line”.

Biden told a news conference in Madrid last month that his visit to West Asia is aimed at deepening Israel’s integration into the region.

I2U2 was established as an international forum for economic cooperation at a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries last October. These countries have said there is no military angle to their cooperation and they are pushing a constructive agenda focused on the economy, especially infrastructure projects.

Israeli experts believe I2U2 will build on the Abraham Accords to expand regional partnerships beyond West Asia, especially on energy, technology and economic issues. “It is hard to overstate how important it is. The entire periphery of Iran is extremely important [for Israel] because of its location and its economic power. The US is supporting India as a counterweight to China – these are two old rivals,” Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli envoy to the US, told The Jerusalem Post.

Former ambassador Zikrur Rahman, who did several stints in West Asia, said India will have an important role within the new grouping in efforts to deal with Iran, especially in view of the good relations between New Delhi and Tehran. “This is like a Quad for West Asia and I see a role for India as a facilitator and moderator in ensuring issues are resolved with Iran through wisdom and negotiations,” he said.

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