Iran slams Netanyahu's visit to Oman

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Israel said the trip came "after lengthy contacts between the two countries".

Bahrain foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa said his country supports Oman's vision of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, while his Saudi Arabian counterpart called the peace process "the key" to normalizing its relations with Israel.

Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement has criticized the Sultanate of Oman for welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's unannounced visit to the Persian Gulf Arab country.

The Israeli premier's trip formed part of "the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region", his office said.

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"Among the issues discussed were ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East", said a joint statement by the two leaders that was issued in English by Netanyahu's office. While President Donald Trump has promised a Mideast peace plan, USA relations with the Palestinians have deteriorated and his efforts to produce the "Deal of the Century" have so far proven fruitless.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also paid a three-day visit to Oman earlier this week.

The United States is reportedly looking to forge a security alliance with Arab nations to function as a so-called "Arab NATO" in a bid to counter Iran's growing clout in the Middle East. The only Arab states that recognize Israel are Jordan and Egypt.

Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration since it chose to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year.

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Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were joined by Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen, who has reportedly been responsible for clandestine talks with Gulf governments, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

A trade office in Oman was closed in 2000 during the second Palestinian Intifada.

While Oman's influence over Israel and the Palestinians is limited, its unique regional position could enable it to play a bigger role mediating between Israel and archenemy Iran.

In another sign of improving relations, Israeli Sports Minister, Miri Regev flew to Abu Dhabi where Israel's judo team was participating in a major tournament.

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