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Sat 4 Jul 2009 01:37 PM

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Bahraini officials pay first visit to Israel - report

Bahrain delegation in Israel to collect five of their nationals Israel was deporting.

Bahraini officials pay first visit to Israel - report
OFFICIAL VISIT: The Israeli navy maintains a blockade of the Gaza Strip. (Getty Images)

Bahraini officials visited Israel in an official capacity for the first time on Friday to collect five of their nationals Israel was deporting, a Bahraini news report and an Israeli official said.

The Bahrain News Agency said the delegation was sent by the interior and foreign ministries to collect the five Bahrainis, who were detained on a boat bound for Gaza from Cyprus this week while trying to break the Israeli blockade on the territory.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the delegation's arrival and said it was the first time officials from the Gulf state had visited Israel in an official capacity.

"This is the first time Bahrainis have visited Israel but their only purpose was to process their nationals and fly them out, there is no other significance to their visit," spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

The Bahrain News Agency said the officials had arrived by air at Israel's main international airport near Tel Aviv.

The Israeli navy intercepted and seized their small ferry boat on Tuesday. The vessel, operated by the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement, was carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid to the Gaza Strip from Cyprus.

The Israeli navy maintains a blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas. (Reuters)

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