WARSAW – Oman's foreign minister hailed a "new era" for the Middle East as he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw on Wednesday, while Israel's premier said the Arab nation was paving the way for future progress in the region.
Netanyahu meanwhile thanked Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawit for his country's Israel policy. "The courageous decision of Sultan Qaboos to invite me to Oman is changing the world," Netanyahu said.
The two were in Warsaw to participate in a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. State Department that was originally supposed to focus on Iran, but the title was later changed to “Promoting a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.”
Netanyahu met with the sultan in October in the first meeting since 1996 by a sitting Israeli prime minister to Oman.
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"Many are following this lead, including those here today in this conference," Netanyahu said in the meeting.
Bin Alawi said in the meeting, "the people of the Middle East suffered a lot because they are stuck to the past. This is a new era for the future and for prosperity for every nation."
Netanyahu said the sultan's invitation is "pointing the way for many others to do what you said, not to be stuck in the past, but to seize the future." The prime minister added: "I thank you for this positive policy that can lead to peace and prosperity for all. I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel, and I allow myself to say on behalf of many people in the Middle East."
After the meeting, Netanyahu told journalists that he spoke to Bin Alawi "on additional steps that we can take with countries in the area to promote common interests, and this will continue." The prime minister added that he is continuing on to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and representatives against Iran. "A meeting that is not hidden and not in the shadows, because there are many like this," he said. "A known meeting with representatives of Arab countries that sit together with Israel in order to promote the common interest of the war against Iran."
The Polish Foreign Ministry announced two days ago that about 60 countries had confirmed their participation in the event, including Arab nations. Besides Oman, representatives from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Tunisia were attending.
Relations between Israel and a number of the countries on the list have warmed considerably in the past year, and with three of those countries to a point where Netanyahu has been particularly interested in upgrading relations with them: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco. Iranian representatives did not participate in the conference, and the Palestinians also announced that they were boycotting it.
After Netanyahu's meeting with Sultan Bin Said in October, Oman reported that "the honorable sultan discussed the matter of advancing the peace process in the Middle East with the head of the Israeli government, Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders discussed ways to advance the political process and the different matters of interest for the two sides with the goal of serving the security and stability of the region."
The Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday that Netanyahu and Bin Said discussed "ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East" and "shared matters of interest in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East."