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Israeli PM in Surprise Oman Visit to Discuss Middle East Peace

Israeli PM in Surprise Oman Visit to Discuss Middle East Peace

Friday, 26 October, 2018 - 18:45
A handout photo made available by Israeli Prime Minister's office shows Sultan Qaboos of Oman meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu, in Muscat, Oman, October 26, 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a rare visit to Oman on Friday where he met with Sultan Qaboos.

“Among the issues discussed were ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East,” said a joint statement by the two leaders that was issued in English by Netanyahu’s office.

The sultanate has long had a low-key role in fostering negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Days before Netanyahu's visit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also visited Oman, raising the possibility that Oman might be trying to help revive negotiations or push forward a troubled US peace plan.

Netanyahu was accompanied on Friday by senior officials, including the head of the Mossad intelligence agency and his national security adviser.

A senior Palestinian official said the sultan had offered to play a role mediating between the Palestinians and Israelis, and that Abbas had said he welcomes any "meaningful" peace process. But the official said the visit was mostly connected to Oman's "regional role."

Though uncommon, Israeli leaders have previously visited the Gulf state.

In 1996, the late Shimon Peres went to Oman and Qatar when he was prime minister and opened Israel trade representative offices in both Gulf countries. His predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, made the first trip to Oman in 1994.

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