Israel has established diplomatic ties with the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Saturday.
The agreement did not appear to be related to Israel’s recently established ties with Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.
The accord between the majority-Jewish Israel and the majority-Buddhist Bhutan follows several years of secret talks with the aim of establishing an alliance, according to the statement from the Foreign Ministry.
An official signing event between the Israeli and Bhutanese ambassadors to India took place earlier on Saturday. The two nations agreed to work closely on water management, agriculture, health care and other areas, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Israel’s growing clout
“Israel’s circle of recognition is growing and expanding,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. “The establishment of relations between us and the Kingdom of Bhutan will serve as another milestone in deepening Israel’s ties in Asia.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the agreement and said: “We are in contact with other countries that want to join and establish relations with us.”
The development comes two days after Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize ties in a deal brokered with assistance from the US. Morocco became the fourth Arab country — after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan — to settle differences with Israel in recent months.