President of Iran Makes Visit to Oman

Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran held talks on Wednesday in Oman with the leader of the sultanate. It was his first state trip to any Arab country since last year when he took office.

Rouhani’s visit is intended to boost bilateral relations between the countries, though there is the possibility it will further east the tensions between Western powers and the Islamic Republic.

Oman stands apart amongst the Arab states in the Gulf for its ability of balancing friendly relations between each.

Rouhani is a moderate who promised to improve Iran’s relations with neighbors. He was accompanied by delegation of high-ranking economists for his visit of two days.

Rouhani said to reporters just prior to departing for Oman that relations amongst neighboring countries are of great importance to Tehran.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, welcomed the leader of Iran at his al-Alam palace, said the official news agency in Oman. The complex, which is colorfully decorated, is located near Muscat, the capital. It is on the harbor that is ringed with mountains.

Oman and Iran are on opposing banks of the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is the strategic waterway near the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is the route for 20% of the oil for the world.

Saudi Arabia as well as other Arab nations that are Western-allied in the Gulf Cooperation Council consisting of six members is wary of the influence of Iran within the region.

Oman, a member of GCC, has traditionally cultivated warm ties with the Islamic Republic and sometimes has taken the role of mediator between the West and Tehran.

Oman was also the site of secret talks held between American and Iranian representatives that came before the landmark nuclear program deal this past November in Geneva.

In that agreement, Iran will curb parts of the nuclear program for a six-month period so that some relief from the economic sanctions will be granted.

Allegations have been disputed by Tehran that its goal is the development of atomic weapons. It insists its nuclear program is just for peaceful purposes like medical and scientific research and to produce electricity.

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