(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s tourism minister was in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a UN-sponsored conference, marking the highest-level visit by an Israeli official to the kingdom and another sign of possible normalization between the two countries.
Haim Katz’s two-day visit to attend a United Nations World Tourism Organization event, announced by his office, comes as the US negotiates a deal that would see Israel and Saudi Arabia establish diplomatic relations for the first time. Saudi Arabia is seeking security guarantees from the US and concessions by Israel to the Palestinians in the complex proposed framework, which has been under discussion for several months.
The visit by the Israeli minister came as Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to the Palestinian Authority officially visited the occupied West Bank for the first time. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, last week said a deal was getting closer “every day.”
Katz is scheduled to meet with ministers from the Middle East on the sidelines of the conference in Riyadh, the statement from his office said, without elaborating.
“Tourism is a bridge between nations,” Katz said in the statement. “Tourism cooperation has the potential to bring us closer together and herald economic flourishing.”
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