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U.S. ready to help Bahrain-Israel normalisation if needed, official says

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States will assist normalisation between Bahrain and Israel if needed, a senior U.S. State Department official said during a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Bahrain on Wednesday.

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Pompeo is on a Middle East tour following a U.S.-brokered accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise relations announced on Aug. 13.

“If we can help facilitate normalization with Bahrain we’re ready,” the official said.

On arrival in Bahrain, Pompeo said it was vital to seize the momentum of the deal. On this trip he has visited Jerusalem, Sudan, Bahrain, the UAE and will head to Oman on Thursday.

Israel and the United States have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE’s path. Israel’s intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain as a possible candidate.

“I think that UAE’s decision creates a climate that makes it easier for another country to follow, and more countries after that,” the state department official on the tour said.

Bahrain welcomed the UAE-Israel accord soon after it was announced and said it raised the chances of peace.

The small island state of Bahrain houses the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT) and a British naval support facility. The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), formed in 2019 to protect commercial shipping in the Gulf after a series of tanker attacks, is also based in Bahrain.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said he welcomed U.S. efforts towards the Israel-UAE accord, noting “the importance of re-doubling efforts to realise a just solution which utilises peace as a strategic option to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”, state news agency BNA said.

On Twitter after meeting the crown prince, Pompeo said they discussed regional peace and stability and Gulf unity.

Reporting by Maher Chmeytelli, Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Hugh Lawson, William Maclean