US Secretary of State Pompeo meets Oman’s new leader Sultan Haitham bin Tariq

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq at al-Alam palace in Muscat, Oman. (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Oman’s new leader Sultan Haitham bin Tariq in Muscat on Friday, Omani state media said, during the top American diplomat’s final stop in a tour of African and Gulf states.

Pompeo is the first high-ranking US official to meet the leader since he succeeded previous sultan Qaboos, who died on January 10 at the age of 79.

Sultan Haitham discussed the “close ties” between Oman and the United States with Pompeo, the official Oman News Agency said.

Experts say Oman’s new ruler, aged 65, is likely to continue the foreign policies of his cousin’s five-decade reign.

An ally to Western countries including the United States, Qaboos cultivated Oman’s status as a neutral actor, maintaining warm ties with Washington’s arch-rival Iran.

Pompeo arrived in Oman from Riyadh, where he reassured close Western ally Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that “the United States stands with Saudi Arabia in the face of... the continuing threat posed by the Iranian regime.”

Last year the United States boosted its military presence in Saudi Arabia following a series of attacks in the Gulf that Washington and Riyadh blamed on Iran.

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Last Update: 15:50 KSA 18:50 - GMT 15:50
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