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Pompeo makes final stop in Oman amid Israel deal push

Oman has been floated as a possible next country to normalize ties with Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Oman’s new sultan today on the last stop of his swing through the Middle East following the US-brokered deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

Pompeo tweeted that he spoke with Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said in Muscat “on the importance of building regional peace, stability, and prosperity through a united Gulf Cooperation Council. Grateful for our strong security partnership and economic ties.”

The six-member GCC is made up of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. 

The state-run news agency ONA reported that the two leaders “reviewed aspects of the existing bilateral cooperation.” Oman's newly appointed foreign minister, Badr bin Hamad al-Busaidi, also attended the meeting. 

Pompeo also had meetings in Israel, Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates this week in an effort to persuade other countries to strike their own deals similar to the historic Israeli-Emirati accord announced earlier this month. 

Under the Washington-brokered agreement, Israel has agreed to suspend its planned annexation of large portions of the West Bank in exchange for normalizing ties with the UAE. The Gulf state is the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to establish formal relations with the Jewish state. 

Oman, which welcomed the deal shortly after its announcement, is thought to be among a number of states that could be next to recognize Israel. Israel’s intelligence minister, Eli Cohen, said in a recent interview that Oman and Bahrain were “definitely on the agenda.” 

The relationship between Israel and Oman has improved in recent years. In October 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a landmark trip to Muscat to meet with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in what Israel framed as "deepening relations with the states of the region.” Qaboos died in January.

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