JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to the Mideast (all times local):

JERUSALEM —- The leaders of the United States, India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday held their first virtual summit as part of a new initiative that’s being called the I2U2, a collection of countries that have pledged greater collaboration.

The idea was hatched last year in Washington, at the home of the U.A.E. ambassador, according to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

“We sat around the table and spoke about how, after we get control over the pandemic, anyone trying to go back to how things used to be would fail,” Lapid said. “Anyone who understands that we live in a new world with new challenges would succeed and flourish.”

He added that, “In the 21st century, challenges are local, but the solutions are global.”

The virtual summit started more than an hour late, and there were some brief technical difficulties at the beginning until U.A.E. President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was unmuted.

“I also hope that our quartet will be a model for those who desire peace and prosperity,” he said in his opening remarks.

The countries announced that the U.A.E. would finance a $2 billion agricultural project in India, with potential help from U.S. and Israeli companies.

“The more we work together, the more we’ll see the benefits multiply and grow to advance our shared commitment to peace, stability and growing prosperity,” Biden said. “They all go together.”

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JERUSALEM — President Joe Biden says he is working to promote Israel’s burgeoning ties with Arab partners in the Middle East.

The U.S. president spoke after meeting Israel’s interim prime minister, Yair Lapid, in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“I talked about how important it was from my perspective for Israel to be totally integrated in the region,” Biden said.

Under the Trump administration, Israel struck diplomatic deals with four Arab countries known as the Abraham Accords.

Biden is hoping to build on those fledgling ties as he heads to Saudi Arabia to meet with Gulf Arab partners this weekend. The ties are largely based on shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and military activities across the region.

Lapid described Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia as “extremely important to Israel.”

Biden also appeared to give a boost to Lapid, who hopes to win a full term in November elections. “We had a good beginning of a long, God willing, relationship,” Biden said.

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JERUSALEM — The United Arab Emirates is investing $2 billion to launch food processing centers across India that will use climate-smart technologies to help reduce waste and conserve fresh water.

The initiative was announced on Thursday ahead of the first virtual leaders’ meeting of I2U2 — a new grouping of Israel, India, United States and UAE — that is looking to spur joint investments in water, energy, transportation, food security, and more.

India will provide land for the project. U.S. and Israeli private firms are invited to lend their expertise to the project that the group said will help maximize crop yields. The group has set tackling food insecurity in South and Middle East as a major goal.

President Joe Biden is taking part the video meeting from Israel, where he is in the second day of a whirlwind visit to the Middle East.

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JERUSALEM — U.S. President Joe Biden has begun a one-on-one meeting in Jerusalem with Israel’s prime minister, Yair Lapid.

Their talks are the centerpiece of a 48-hour visit by the U.S. president aimed at strengthening already tight relations between the two countries.

The leaders are expected to sign a joint declaration emphasizing military cooperation as well as their commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The commitments to Israel could hold important symbolic importance ahead of Biden’s meeting this weekend with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as he seeks to strengthen a regionwide alliance against Iran.

Thursday’s meeting also provides a boost to Lapid, who is Israel’s interim prime minister until elections in November. Lapid’s main opponent is the former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. His joint appearance with Biden could help burnish his credentials as a statesman and leader.