Oman Minister Meets Barak, Tells him to Keep Hands off Muslim Sites

Published September 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Oman's minister responsible for foreign affairs Yussef bin Alawi said in comments published Tuesday he had met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in New York during the UN Millennium Summit. 

It was the first reported meeting between a senior Omani official and an Israeli leader since 1995. 

"I met the Israeli prime minister and I told him categorically that neither he nor his successor should expect Israel to have authority or sovereignty over the Palestinian territories," he told the Oman newspaper. 

"Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque are Arab and there should not under any condition remain any Israeli sovereignty there, to ensure security and stabilty," bin Alawi said. 

The minister also told the daily "Israel should withdraw from Syrian territory, to the line of June 4, 1967," before the six-day war when Israel captured the Golan Heights. 

The Omani minister gave no date for his talks but it is thought to have followed a meeting between Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Barak on September 8 on the sidelines of last week's New York summit.  

Bin Alawi attended the funeral of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 and afterwards met Shimon Peres who took over the job. 

Oman and Qatar are the only Gulf Arab states where Israel has any official representation. 

Diplomatic relations have not been established but Israel has trade offices in Doha and Muscat. 

Oman opened a trade bureau in Tel Aviv in August 1996 but the representative was recalled in January 1997 and conditioned a return on real progress in the Middle East peace talks. 

Qatar's emir met Peres in April 1996, two years after Rabin visited Muscat in December 1994 - MUSCAT (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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