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Iran's Rouhani arrives in longtime Gulf Arab ally Oman

AFP , Wednesday 12 Mar 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (Photo: Reuters)
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Muscat Wednesday for a visit dedicated to talks with leaders of the Islamic republic's historic ally in the Gulf on regional tensions and bilateral cooperation .

Rouhani was greeted on arrival at the royal airport in Muscat by Oman's deputy prime minister for the council of ministers, Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, an AFP correspondent reported.

He then headed to the Alam palace in eastern Muscat to meet Sultan Qaboos, who has acted as an intermediary between Western countries and the Islamic republic.

The sultanate is reported to have hosted secret talks between Iran and the United States ahead of the signing in Geneva last November of an accord between world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme.

A government official said Rouhani was also to hold talks Wednesday with senior Omani officials, the sultanate's top cleric Ahmad al-Khalil and local businesspeople.

Before departing Tehran with a delegation of Iranian ministers for the two-day visit, Rouhani hailed the "good relations" that exist between Tehran and Muscat.

"During this trip, we want to implement contracts (signed) in the field of trade and economy, especially those linked to oil and gas," as well as in finance, banking, and culture, he told reporters at the airport, as cited by the official IRNA news agency.

"This visit is of great importance to strengthen relations between Iran and Islamic countries, especially those neighbouring Iran," he added.

"The Strait of Hormuz gives countries south of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea great importance," Rouhani said.

Rouhani is the second Iranian leader to visit Oman since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. His hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the sultanate in 2007.

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