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New Sultan of Oman Receives Pompeo

New Sultan of Oman Receives Pompeo

Friday, 21 February, 2020 - 19:00
Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Muscat. (ONA)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Oman's new leader Sultan Haitham bin Tariq received in Muscat on Friday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sultan Haitham discussed the "close ties" between Oman and the United States with Pompeo, the official Oman News Agency said.

The meeting was attended by foreign affairs minister, Yusuf bin Alawi Abdullah, who greeted Pompeo upon his arrival in the capital on Friday.

Pompeo is the first high-ranking US official to meet the leader since he succeeded previous Sultan Qaboos, who died on January 10 at the age of 79.

Pompeo's visit to Oman lasted only several hours long, before departing back to the US.

He had arrived in the sultanate from Saudi Arabia, where he paid a two-day official visit.

A State Department statement said Friday that the bilateral partnership between the US and Oman "is critical to our mutual national security objectives, including countering terrorism and promoting regional stability."

"Oman plays a key role in guaranteeing freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, a maritime chokepoint through which 30 percent of the world’s maritime oil shipments pass," it said.

"Oman plays a unique diplomatic role in the region, bridging divides and promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts, including Yemen, the Middle East peace process, and the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA)," the statement added.

It also lauded the improvement of trade between Washington and Muscat, saying the 2009 US-Oman Free Trade Agreement "is the centerpiece of a bilateral economic relationship that supports prosperity and creates jobs in both countries."

Omani exports to the US have increased at an annual rate of approximately 12 percent, said the State Department, adding that US exports to the Sultanate have increased by more than 50 percent since 2009.

"Total bilateral trade in goods between the United States and Oman was almost $3.1 billion in 2019."

"US companies in Oman operate mainly in the construction, oil, gas, and technology sectors. The Oman American Business Center in Muscat currently has more than 150 company members," said the statement.

"Omani ports outside the Strait of Hormuz – such as Duqm, Sohar, and Salalah – play a growing role as regional and global logistical hubs," it concluded.

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