Israel's Netanyahu mourns Oman's 'great leader'


Jerusalem (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Saturday in tributes to Sultan Qaboos of Oman, who died at the age of 79, calling him a "great leader" and champion for peace.

In October 2018, Netanyahu held surprise talks with Qaboos in Muscat.

The visit raised Palestinian fears of a normalisation of ties between Oman and the Jewish state.

"I send condolences to the people of Oman and share their grief over the passing of Sultan Qaboos bin Said," Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language statement released by his office.

"About a year ago, he invited my wife and me to an exceptionally important and exciting visit, in which he offered his assistance in promoting peace and stability in the region," Netanyahu wrote.

"He was a great leader who worked tirelessly to promote peace and stability in our region."

Netanyahu welcome the naming of Haitham bin Tariq as the successor to Qaboos.

"I congratulate the new Sultan... on his appointment and for his statement that Oman's foreign policy and its activities for peace in the region will continue," Netanyahu said.

Israel and Oman agreed to open trade representative offices in the 1990s, but in 2000 the Gulf sultanate closed them after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.