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Lavrov to discuss in Oman bilateral issues, Syrian conflict

Last time Lavrov visited Oman in late 2008

MUSCAT, February 3. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is rounding off his brief tour of the Persian Gulf countries with talks in Oman on Wednesday.

Last time Lavrov visited Oman in late 2008. The agenda for talks includes regional affairs and particularly security issues, intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and a range of bilateral issues.

Russia’s foreign minister is expected to meet with Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

The sides are due to sign an intergovernmental agreement to lift mutual visa requirements for the holders of diplomatic, special and service passports.

Bilateral issues, security in Persian Gulf

The talks in Oman’s capital Muscat will discuss the relations between Russia and Oman and their prospects in the context of the efforts on further stepping up the political dialogue.

"An exchange of views will be held on the situation in the Middle East with the focus on the state of affairs in the zone of the Persian Gulf in the light of the domestic political crisis in Yemen," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

"The sides will discuss other important regional topics, including the situation in Syria and the Syrian settlement in the light of launching indirect talks in Geneva between the government of the country and the opposition," the ministry said.

The ministers will discuss in detail the prospects of cooperation as part of the strategic dialogue between Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum. Moscow is expected to host ministerial meetings in these formats this year.

The sides will also discuss the issue of ensuring security in the zone of the Persian Gulf taking into consideration a concept proposed by Russia. Moscow says an active political dialogue is held at the level of ministers and their deputies. "All these contacts have confirmed that the positions of Russia and Oman on the key modern problems are close or coincide."

Economy and tourism

The bilateral trade turnover has been marked a positive dynamics. Last year the trade between Russia and Oman grew by 20% compared with 2014 reaching $105 million.

The tourism flow also grows, with around 5,000 Russian tourists visiting Oman every year.

Challenges and threats

The fight against international terrorism, organized crime and piracy is also an important area of cooperation. "In this context the practice when Russia’s naval ships participating in the anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden enter Oman’s port Salalah has proved to be efficient," the Foreign Ministry said.

Last spring the authorities of Oman provided assistance to Russia’s citizens during their evacuation from the neighboring Yemen where the situation significantly deteriorated, the ministry said.

Talks in Geneva

The talks on the Syrian settlement in Geneva will dominate the agenda of talks. The goal is to make the negotiating process sustainable. So far, the opposition has failed to set up a united delegation.

Some foreign actors give priority to the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) formed in Riyadh while it is strategically important to ensure the inclusive character of the opposition’s participation in the Geneva consultations.

The compromise should be reached based on unanimous consent and not the one achieved behind the scenes.

Oil market

The sides will also discuss the situation on the oil market. Lavrov said Moscow is interested in exchanging views with the oil producers. "We’re interested in securing a common understanding of what is taking place on world energy product markets and are interested in an exchange of opinions," the Russian foreign minister said.

Russia is ready to participate in the meeting between the member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries. "We believe that the dialogue and the monitoring of oil market developments meet the interests of all the sides," he said.