The Sultanate of Oman and Turkey have signed a memoradum of understanding to promote military cooperation between the two friendly countries.

According to the state-run Oman News Agency, the MoU was signed to mark the visit to Turkey by Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah. "Military cooperation was given due weight during the talks and the two sides have signed an MoU on military training."

Addressing a press conference at the end of his visit in the company of his Turkish counterpart Ismael Cem, Alawi stressed the Sultanate's support of Turkey in finding out a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Cyprus.

He said the Sultanate was also keen to learn from Turkish experiences in the military and tourism fields. On the Middle East, Alawi said the issues could not be settled by use of force and dialogue was the best way to resolve differences.

Hailing the outcome of his official round of talks with Cem, he said the current situtation in Iraq was also discussed,adding the Sultanate was looking forward to the lifting of the UN embargo on Iraq and the normalisation of Iraq's relations with the international community.

The press conference took place only hours before the UN Security Council voted unanimously for a five-month routine extension of the oil-for-food programme for Iraq after Russia forced the U.S. and Britiain to put off a plan to revamp the 11-year-old sanctions against Baghdad. A wave of jubilation followed the move not only in Iraq but in other Arab and Muslim countries.

Oman recently sent its minister of commerce and industry, Maqbool bin Ali Sultan to Iraq as part of its campaign to help alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people caused by the sanctions. The visit was marked by an agreement to promote trade and commerce between the two Arab nations.

Alawi also conferred with former Turkish President Sulaiman Demirel, a member of the fact-finding committee in the Palestinian territories,who went on to praise Oman's contribution to the settlement of regional issues under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

Demirel, who became the first Turkish president to visit Oman in 1997, said the Sultanate's foreign policy was constantly clear and straightforward and Turkey valued its friendship with Oman greatly.

The meeting touched on the current situation in the Middle East in the context of the U.S.-brokered truce and a total week of calm proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the sufferings of the Palestinian people as well as other regional and international issues of common concern.

Alawi also met Turkish President Ahmet Needet Sezer, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and the Speaker.