April 25, 2019 / 2:44 PM / a month ago

Israel says it will take part in Expo 2020 in Dubai

JERUSALEM, April 25 (Reuters) - Israel said on Thursday it will take part in Expo 2020 Dubai in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed as a sign of his country’s improved standing in the Gulf region.

The global trade exhibition’s website said Dubai had confirmed 192 countries had announced their participation and called it “the most inclusive and international Expo ever organised”.

The Expo is due to open on Oct. 20, 2020 and close on April 10, 2021.

“Expos are global gatherings where people from around the world come together to celebrate ingenuity and apply it to shared challenges. We are excited to be a part of that common endeavour,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Netanyahu said: “I welcome Israel’s participation in the Expo in Dubai. It is another sign of Israel’s ascending status in the world and in the region.”

Israel and Gulf Arab countries share concern over their common enemy, Iran, and diplomacy has become more public after years of mostly covert contact due to strong opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Israel has formal diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.

But an Israeli cabinet minister visited Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque last year and fellow Gulf state Oman hosted Netanyahu on a surprise trip, the first time an Israeli leader had visited the Sultanate in 22 years.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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