Trump gives awards to top aides for Arab-Israeli deals

Among the recipients of the National Security Medal were (in background, from left) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, senior adviser Jared Kushner and national security adviser Robert O'Brien. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump gave national security awards on Wednesday (Dec 23) to several top advisers for their role in helping broker agreements aimed at normalising relations between Israel and four countries in the Arab world.

Mr Trump awarded the National Security Medal to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Mr John Rakolta, US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

"Thanks to the efforts of these individuals, the region will never be the same as it finally moves beyond the conflicts of the past," the White House said in a statement.

In the past four months, Israel reached deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco as part of what the United States calls "the Abraham Accords."

Senior US officials are hoping to seal one more agreement before Mr Trump's term expires on Jan 20.

The president's authority to award the National Security Medal dates to 1953, under an executive order that allows for recognition for major contributions in the field of national security.

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