MUSCAT : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Oman on Thursday as part of a Middle East tour following a US-brokered accord on normalising relations between Israel and the UAE announced on August 13.
Pompeo said he discussed the “importance of building regional peace, stability, and prosperity through a united Gulf Cooperation Council” with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq. “Grateful for our strong security partnership and economic ties,” he wrote on Twitter.
The state-run Oman News Agency described Pompeo’s trip as “a short visit to the sultanate,” without offering specifics on what was discussed. Accompanying Sultan Haitham at the meeting was Oman’s new foreign minister, Badr Al Busaidi.
Pompeo is drumming up support for the UAE-Israel accord, hoping to encourage other Arab nations to follow.
During a joint call with US President Donald Trump, the Emirates and Israel said they would work towards normalised relations in exchange for a halt in Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.
Oman, often sought as a mediator in regional disputes because of its carefully tended image of neutrality, has shown signs of willingness to cooperate with Israel.
In 2018, the late Sultan Qaboos met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat, the first visit by an Israeli leader to Oman in more than 20 years.
Former foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi, replaced last week by Badr Al Busaidi, spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, by phone in early August. He called for the “resumption of the peace process in order to satisfy the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people who aspire to an independent state”.
Sultan Haitham took power in January, following the death of longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled Oman for 50 years. In the time since, he’s focused entirely on overhauling the sultanate’s government, though he said he planned to continue Oman’s non-interference policy in the region.
Pompeo visited Jerusalem, Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE before heading to Oman. No other Arab state has since announced plans to normalise relations with Israel.
In Jerusalem, Pompeo recorded a message supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign for the Republican National Convention. That speech cast aside his own advice to American diplomats to be apolitical and bulldozed a long tradition of non-partisanship by previous secretaries of state.
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