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Israel PM Visits Oman In A Bid To Bolster Ties With Arab World

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the first visit to Oman by an Israeli premier in over 20 years, officials said Friday, in an apparent sign of growing regional ties.

The surprise meeting with Oman´s Sultan Qaboos late Thursday, which was kept secret until Netanyahu´s return home, comes despite the two nations having no diplomatic ties.

The trip is a major coup for Netanyahu, who has said he wants to bolster ties with the Arab world despite a stalemate on the Palestinian front.

"A special visit in Oman -- we´re making history!" Netanyahu wrote on Twitter, posting a video of his reception and meeting.

Netanyahu and Sultan Qaboos discussed the Middle East peace process "and other issues of shared interest", the Israeli premier´s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife Sara and his delegation included Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The visit came at the invitation of Sultan Qaboos and followed "lengthy contacts between the two countries", the Israeli statement said.

It formed part of "the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region", it said.

Oman´s state broadcaster showed Netanyahu and his delegation walking alongside Sultan Qaboos -- who is rarely seen in pictures anymore -- and Omani officials in traditional garb.

In 1994, then-Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman, and acting prime minister Shimon Peres also made a visit in 1996 when the two countries agreed to open trade representative offices.

In October 2000, Oman closed the offices after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan.

  • Israel
  • Oman
  • Benjamin Natanyahu
  • Arab World