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Paul McLoughlin

Saudi Arabia interior minister in two-day visit to Oman, in sign of warming relations

Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz is visiting Oman [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2018

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A sign of improving ties between Oman and Saudi Arabia was witnessed on Sunday, as Riyadh's Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz arrived in the sultanate for a two day visit.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz al-Saud has arrived in Oman for a two day visit, as the two Gulf states move closer after disagreements on several regional issues.

Prince Abdulaziz arrived in Muscat with his delegation on Sunday evening, Oman News Agency reported, and will meet with "senior officials" from the sultanate.

He will hold meetings with his Omani counterpart Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al-Busaidi and senior police officials, the state news agency added.

No further details were mentioned about the purpose of his visit but it comes after signs emerged of improving relations between the two countries.

Oman is not been involved in the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen, retains strong ties with Iran - despite Riyadh's rivalry with Tehran - and has not taken part in the Gulf blockade on Qatar.

Last week, it emerged that Saudi Arabia would invest $210 million in Oman, including the sultanate's Duqm port which Muscat hopes will drive future non-oil related revenues.

Earlier, Prince Abdulaziz met Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in the UAE where they discussed security ties.

Saudi Arabia is attempting to bolster security ties with other Gulf states and has worked closely with the UAE on intelligence sharing and a military alliance.

Both countries are strongly opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which came to power in Egypt until the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi's government in the 2013 military coup.

Oman, too, has an uneasy relationship with political Islamism and has been concerned about instability over the border in Yemen, where the war has led al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group to increase their presence.

Oman granted refuge to the family of former Yemen leader Ali Abdullah Saleh who was brutally murdered by the Houthi rebels near Sanaa in December.

The Houthis went to war with their former ally Saleh and his supporters late last year after the ex-ruler allegedly made overtures to Gulf states at war with the rebels about a possible political agreement.

Saudi Arabia claimed it channel the 22 members of Saleh's family out of the country and safely into Oman in December.

Oman announced changes to its penal code on Sunday, including tougher security laws.

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