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Sultan of Oman meets with Rouhani, Khamenei - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) walks with Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said ahead of a meeting in Tehran in this August 25, 2013 photo provided by the Iranian state news agency (IRNA) (REUTERS/IRNA/Handout via Reuters)

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani (R) walks with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said ahead of a meeting in Tehran in this August 25, 2013, photo provided by the Iranian state news agency (IRNA). (REUTERS/IRNA/Handout via Reuters)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Sultan of Oman became the first foreign head of state to visit Iran during the new Rouhani Administration, with a trip that began this weekend. His visit is to discuss energy cooperation between the two states.

After meeting with President Rouhani on Sunday, the Omani monarch, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said met Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday, who said: “There are numerous options to expand ties between the two countries in various fields, especially gas.”

Ayatollah Khamenei called Oman a “true and a good” neighbour to the Islamic Republic of Iran and added: “The region is currently experiencing a sensitive situation which requires more coordination between Iran and Oman.”

“Assorted interference from outside the region is the main reason for the current situation in the region,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Khamenei’s statements echoed those of President Rouhani, who said yesterday that cooperation between Iran and Oman played an important role in ensuring continued regional peace and stability, and said that existing relations between the two states were “excellent.”

Sultan Qaboos emphasized the importance of security in the region and said: “Considering people’s best interests and strengthening collaboration among regional states is the key to [solving] problems in the region.”

Oman is one of the few Arab countries to maintain close relations with Iran, and the only Gulf monarchy to do so. The country’s monarch has acted in the past as an intermediary between Iran and the US, though officials on Iran’s national security council deny that the Sultan or his advisers have carried a message to the new Rouhani Administration on behalf of the White House, despite media speculation.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, also held a meeting on Sunday to discuss relations between Tehran and Muscat.

The two ministers highlighted the importance of the “North–South Corridor” and how it could facilitate the transportation of goods from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf.

Alawi highlighted the strong relations between Tehran and Muscat, and stressed ties with Iran should be expanded. He stressed the significance of the North–South trade corridor for Oman and also described Iran as the regional focal point for the transit of commodities.

The North–South Corridor is a new rail link being built by Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. It will link Uzen in Kazakhstan with Gyzylgaya-Bereket-Etrek in Turkmenistan and end at Gorgan in the Iranian province of Golestan. From there, it will be connected to Iran’s national rail network, making its way to Gulf ports.

The 560-mile (900-kilometer) railroad will facilitate commercial transportation from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf. The railroad is planned to have the capacity to transport three to five million tons of cargo annually.

This followed a meeting between Oman’s minister of oil, Mohammed Romahi, and his Iranian counterpart, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, who discussed proposals for joint offshore gas projects, as well as gas exports from Iran to Oman, on Sunday.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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