Nice to see US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropping by today for a 121 with HM Sultan Qaboos. My take on the US agenda:
1/ Say a big Thanks from the President for paying the Iranians and negotiating the release of those stupid American idiots. We owe you one.
2/ Discuss Iran (again), and the plot to assassinate an Ambassador of a fellow GCC state in the USA. [If true, this would be anathema to HM].
3/ Discuss and coordinate on the situations in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and the GCC involvement in the search for solutions. Plus Afghanistan & Pakistan; Turkey & Israel. Iraq.
4/ Cautious praise on the recent elections: right direction, more power to Majlis eagerly awaited. And need more women.
5/ Talks on the Arab Spring, esp. Egypt and Libya.
6/ US support for HM. HM has done an excellent job as a regional & moderate peacemaker, and was the first leader to visit Iran after their most recent 'elections', hence the backchannel. Appreciation for his continuing to be a strong US ally in the region, and his cooperation on all levels.
It got Oman into the venerable Washington Post, with the gem:
... talks in Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id’s lavish palace, in the capital of this tiny Gulf state,....
The Secretary certainly praised Oman lavishly in the press release.
..."The Sultanate of Oman has made more progress than any country in the world in the past forty years, which has laid the stability at home and peace with its neighbors. ...It must be for other countries to learn how to become the Sultanate in this short period of time, a unique model of development ... in the Middle East. "
I wonder if she raised civil rights, and developments in the arrest and trials of journalists? (For those who care, the appeal was delayed until the 22nd October)
Also in Bloomberg here:
Clinton in Oman for Talks on Iran, Protests Across Arab World
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - Oct 19, 2011 10:10 AM GMT+0400
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Oman today to thank the Gulf state’s ruler for his role in securing the release of three American hikers jailed by Iran, and to discuss efforts to meet demands for greater economic and political freedoms in the sultanate.
Clinton will also hold talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said on the recent alleged plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and protests in nearby Syria and Yemen that have claimed the lives of demonstrators as the countries’ leaders cling to power, a U.S. official told reporters traveling with the secretary of State.
The U.S. is seeking to exert pressure on Iran, which it views as a rogue state that threatens global security, and Oman is key to that effort as a rare U.S. ally that has a friendly relationship with the government in Tehran, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition that his name not be used because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
Qaboos was instrumental in the release last month of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who spent two years imprisoned in Iran on charges of illegal entry and espionage, and in last year’s release of a third hiker, Sarah Shourd.
Lawyers for the three said Oman arranged for $500,000 in bail to be paid for each as a condition of their release. The trio, who denied spying, said they were trekking in Iraq in July 2009 when they were beckoned to approach a guard who then arrested them for illegal entry into neighboring Iran.