Surprise Netanyahu visit to Oman leads opening talks at Manama Dialogue

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Time: October 27, 2018   

  • Israeli leader’s trip ‘significant,’ Petraeus tells annual security summit in Bahrain
  • Netanyahu’s surprise meeting with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos late on Thursday was kept secret until he returned home

MANAMA: A surprise visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led discussions on Friday at the Manama Dialogue, the annual security conference in Bahrain organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“Netanyahu’s visit is significant,” said former CIA director David Petraeus in an opening session with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “The Iranian threat is very real and ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.”

Netanyahu’s surprise meeting with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos late on Thursday was kept secret until he returned home. The two nations have no diplomatic ties.

The two men discussed “the Middle East peace process and other issues of shared interest,” Netanyahu’s office said. He was accompanied by his wife Sara, Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Petraeus told the Manama Dialogue the Trump administration was pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran. “You will see a substantial amount of pain for Iran,” he said. “Is Iran willing to sit down and talk to the US and other key countries?  Will Iran continue to solidify the Shiite crescent?  Will they continue to destabilize their country and cause more pain for its people?”

Key speakers at the conference include Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. It concludes on Sunday.

This article was first published in Arab News

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