Friday, December 1, 2023
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Muscat – Oman is continuing to play a ‘constructive’ and ‘proactive’ role in creating a sustainable environment for peace and security in the region, according to H E Sayyid Badr al Busaidi, Foreign Minister. In an interview with Al-Monitor, an independent Middle East news and analysis website based in Washington DC, USA, H E Sayyid Badr spoke on Oman’s relations with Israel, its peace efforts in Yemen and its longtime role as a regional mediator.

“Our neutrality is not passive. It’s constructive, it’s positive, it’s proactive,” H E Sayyid Badr told Al-Monitor. “We really stick to the principle of creating a sustainable environment for peace, security and stability so that our people and our generations can prosper,” he said.

On the question of US-Syria hostage talks, the foreign minister said, “We know at least there are messages going back and forth. I can’t tell you that they are closer to finding a way out yet, but the process has started, and I hope it continues.” In the recent past, US and Syrian officials have discussed Austin Tice, a freelance journalist covering Syria’s civil war who disappeared more than a decade ago.

H E Sayyid Badr told the website there has been an exchange of messages between Washington and Damascus “partly” with Oman’s help. On the potential of a United States-Iran prisoner deal, he said Washington and Tehran are “close” to finalising a deal on the release of Americans held in the Iranian capital. “I can say they are close,” he said of a likely prisoner agreement. “This is probably a question of technicalities.”

He said Oman has “offered in good faith our offices to help both sides, be it here or anywhere else”. Discussing the sultanate’s relations with Israel, H E Sayyid Badr said Oman is open to a relationship with Israel, but not at the expense of ignoring and closing the door on the Palestinians.

He added that Oman is ready to assist with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process “when the mood and the willingness are there in the Israeli camp, which unfortunately, at the moment we don’t see”. The foreign minister described the direct talks between Saudi and Houthi officials in the Yemeni capital earlier this year as the “first step” in ending the country’s long-running conflict.

An Omani delegation joined Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al Jaber for the talks in Sanaa in April. “I think it’s the first step because up until recently, there wasn’t really any credible dialogue between any major players in Yemen,” H E Sayyid Badr said. “Our assessment is that they are now working on the modalities of how we can move forward that process which will help them [gain] better trust and confidence.


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