The Prime Minister’s Office made a surprising announcement late Friday afternoon, telling media that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara had just returned from an “official diplomatic visit” to Muscat, the capital of Oman.
It’s the first visit to the Gulf nation in more than 20 years.
Netanyahu and his wife met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said during the visit, which his office called “a significant step in implementing the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region while leveraging Israel’s advantages in security, technology and economic matters.”
The visit came at the invitation of the sultan, who has ruled since 1970, “after lengthy contacts between the two countries.” The talks followed by a few days a visit to Muscat by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who also met with sultan.
Mossad director Yossi Cohen, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem, PMO chief of staff Yigal Horowitz and Prime Minister’s military secretary Brigadier General Avi Bluth accompanied Netanyahu and his wife on the visit.
The two leaders discussed “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,” they said in a joint statement issued by the two nations. They also discussed “the latest developments related to the Palestinian issue,” and the question of bilateral ties.
The last visit to Oman by an Israeli leader took place in 1996, when then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres arrived for talks.