Sultan Qaboos, Queen review historic ties

MUSCAT - His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and Queen Elizabeth held discussions on Oman-Britain relations at the Al Alam Palace here on Friday, the second day of the British monarch’s state visit to the sultanate.

By Our Correspondent

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Published: Sun 28 Nov 2010, 1:02 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:19 AM

An official statement said their talks centred on the “historical relations binding the two friendly countries and aspects of the existing close cooperation between the two countries in all fields.”

Earlier, the official arrival ceremony for the Queen was held with Sultan Qaboos heading the welcoming party. The Omani ruler received Queen Elizabeth as she and her delegation including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Foreign Secretary William Haig arrived at the Muscat Gate.

The two later proceeded to the Al Alam Palace in a ceremonial motorcade, greeted by hundreds of flag-waving citizens and British residents who had lined the street. They reviewed a guard of honour as the national anthem of Britain was played to the sound of a 21-gun salute.

The two rulers introduced members of their delegations to each other before retiring to the palace for coffee and talks. Afterwards, they toured an exhibition titled ‘The Art of Seeing Nature — Masterpieces from Tate Britain’ at the palace organised as part of Oman’s 40th National Day.

The show features work by renowned British artists between the period from the 18th to the 20th century, including Thomas Gainsborough, George Stubbs, John Constable, J.M.W Turner, John Everett Millais and John Singer Sargent.

Sultan Qaboos praised the quality of the exhibits that depict the landscapes in Britain and the Middle East. Later in the evening, Sultan Qaboos hosted a banquet for the Queen and her delegation at the palace.

Meanwhile, Haig, the British Foreign Secretary, underlined the “close relationship” between his country and Oman.

“Today Britain enjoys a close relationship with Oman, one that we hope will go from strength to strength in the decades to come,” he said in an article on the website of the British Embassy in Muscat.

He said Britain valued its engagement with Oman “on the best way to address regional issues, whether it is instability in Yemen, aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, conflict in Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan or the growing risk of nuclear proliferation in the region.” He said Britain attached great importance to achieving a durable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “which affects not only Israelis and Palestinians, but also the security and prosperity of the wider region.

“With each day the window for a peace settlement is closing. I made clear during my recent visit to the region that the UK understands the depth of Israeli security concerns. But the strength of our friendship means we must say that this means meeting Road Map obligations by renewing the settlement freeze to allow talks to resume. It would be a serious setback if there was an irretrievable breakdown of the talks, and Britain will work with the United States and others to try to avert this from happening.”

Key agreements signed

Oman and Britain on Friday signed two agreements, the first mutually exempting holders of diplomatic and special passports from visas and the other setting up a joint working group.

The deals were signed for the sultanate by Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah and for the UK by Haig.

In remarks, they said the agreement reflected a commitment by both sides to strengthen ties. The joint working group will hold its first meeting in early 2011.

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