Dubai: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday met with the new ruler of Oman, a Gulf Arab country that has close ties with both Washington and Tehran and that has previously provided a back channel for talks between the adversaries.
Pompeo’s stop in Oman to meet Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Saeed is the highest level US visit to the country since he was selected successor to longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed, who died on January 10 after 50 years in power.
Oman supported the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran and world powers, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the US.
Oman, like other Gulf Arab countries, is concerned that rising tensions in the region and the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran could harm tourism and economic growth, and impact the flow of oil through the narrow Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
Sultan Haitham has vowed to uphold his predecessor’s foreign policy approach, which was based on non-interference.
Oman’s foreign affairs minister, Yousuf Bin Alawi Abdullah, greeted Pompeo upon his arrival in Muscat on Friday. He has been quoted as saying that his government is in touch with the US and Iran and believes the possibility exists for dialogue between them.
Pompeo travelled to Oman from Saudi Arabia, where over two days he met King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, visited a sprawling desert airbase housing some 2,500 US troops and held a more than two-hour meeting, that included dinner, with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
The State Department said Pompeo and the crown prince discussed threats from Iran, and the situation in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.