Oman's sultan names new foreign minister

AFP , Tuesday 18 Aug 2020

OmanI Sultan Haitham
FILE PHOTO: OmanI Sultan Haitham bin Tariq is pictured at al-Alam palace in Muscat, Oman, February 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

Oman's Sultan Haitham on Tuesday appointed a new top diplomat, replacing the long-serving Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in a government reshuffle.

Sultan Haitham, since his accession in January, has vowed to maintain Oman's policy of neutrality and non-interference.

Badr Albusaidi, 60, was named foreign minister, a title held by the late Sultan Qaboos himself but with Alawi responsible for foreign affairs for the past two decades.

Albusaidi has been in the diplomatic service since the 1980s and held a number of posts, including foreign ministry secretary-general.

Sultan bin Salem bin Saeed al-Habsi was appointed finance minister, a post also held by the sultan, and new faces were named to other key ministries, state media said.

Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in after modern Oman's founding father, Sultan Qaboos, died at the age of 79.

Yusuf bin Alawi played a key role in maintaining Oman's neutrality and as a regional mediator.

On Monday, he spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on the phone to stress Oman's support of "a comprehensive, just and lasting peace", Oman's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

It was the first public contact between Oman and Israel since US President Donald Trump's announcement last week that Israel and the UAE, Oman's neighbour, have agreed to normalise ties.

In October 2018, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held surprise talks with Qaboos in Muscat, which does not officially recognise Israel but maintains good ties with both Washington and Tehran.

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