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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Saudi interior minister arrives in Muscat for talks

Prince Abdulaziz expected to tap Oman's role as regional mediator regarding several crises

The Saudi interior minister arrived in Oman on Sunday on a two-day visit that is expected to include discussions on the Yemen conflict, the Qatar crisis and Iran.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz will hold talks with his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Abdulla Alawi, and other senior officials on “bilateral relations and matters of common concern”, the official Oman News Agency (ONA) said.

According to an Omani political analyst and foreign diplomat based in the country, the discussions are likely to focus on Omani mediation in the GCC crisis as well as Yemen and Iran.

“This meeting only means that Saudi Arabia now realises how important Oman is to [resolving] the crises in the Gulf," the analyst, who works at a think tank in Muscat, told The National.

"The Saudis know that Oman can mediate solutions Riyadh is looking for in Qatar, Yemen and Iran. The Sultanate has certain influence on these countries and this is the feeling in Riyadh."

Oman has played the role of mediator between the warring parties in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels since 2015, and in the dispute with Qatar over Doha's support for terrorism.

The foreign diplomat said the Prince Abdulaziz's visit underscored Muscat’s unique role in the Middle East’s political order as a diplomatic bridge between the Sunni Arab states and their western allies on one side and the Iranians on the other.

“There is no other way to put it. The regional players such as the Saudis know that Oman has considerable influence on Iran. It is the only country in the world who can swing the whole political disorder to the good side where everybody in the region can be happy about it,” the diplomat said.

Before arriving in Muscat, Prince Abdulaziz and his delegation made a stop in Dubai where he held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister, the UAE state news agency Wam reported.