Syria's top diplomat visits Oman on rare Gulf mission

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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem arrived in the Omani capital on Monday for talks with officials, the two countries' official news agencies said.

Oman, a US ally bordering Saudi Arabia and Yemen, has good ties with Iran, a key backer of the Syrian regime, and has frequently served as a mediator in the Arab world.

Its state news agency ONA said Muallem's visit would cover "several days during which he will meet with a number of senior officials in the sultanate", without giving details.

The talks would cover "the current situation in the region and means of strengthening bilateral ties", as well as regional and international issues, said Syria's SANA news agency.

During the visit, which comes in response to an invitation from the Omani minister responsible for foreign affairs Yusuf bin Alawi, Muallem is to inaugurate the headquarters of Syria's new embassy in Muscat, SANA said.

The agency said Muallem was heading a delegation which includes deputy foreign minister Faisal Muqdad.

It is Muallem's second trip to Oman since the 2011 outbreak of Syria's co nflict, during which it has been the only Gulf state to host a Syrian foreign minister.

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