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Zarif Says Oman Informed Iran About Netanyahu's Trip In October

Israel’s Netanyahu met the Sultan of Oman in late October. According to the official statement the two discussed ‘ways to promote peace in the Middle East’. File photo

Iran’s foreign minister says that Oman had informed Iran about Israeli prime minister Benjanim Netanyahu’s visit to the Arab country in late October.

This was the first time in more than two months an Iranian official acknowledged that Tehran was informed beforehand about the historic trip.

Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview with Iran’s Hamshahri newspaper said Iran’s response to Oman was that the trip was not “in line with Oman’s interests”.

After Netanyahu’s trip, Israeli media and other news outlets speculated that he used the visit to send a warning or a message to Iran, using Oman’s diplomatic channels to Tehran.

There is also the possibility that Oman could act as a mediator between Israel and Iran, given the Sultanate’s role in kick-starting the Obama era nuclear negotiations with Tehran, resulting in the 2015 agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear program.

Zarif has also disclosed in his interview that after the visit, Oman informed Tehran about what had transpired and assured the Islamic Republic that Netanyahu’s trip was not “against Iran’s interests”, saying that Oman and Iran should not necessarily share the same opinion on all issues.

Oman is one of the few Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region that in the past 40 years has maintained normal relations without tensions with the Islamic Republic.

After Netanyahu’s trip mid-ranking Iranian officials had voiced dismay at Oman’s decision to host the Israeli leader.

In recent years, relations between several Arab countries and Israel have improved, contrary to Tehran’s wishes. Israel is enjoying substantial support from the United States and is acting confidently in the region.

However, Zarif in the interview once again reiterated his recent claim that Iran is not after Israel’s destruction.

Zarif also told Hamshahri that President Donald Trump’s re-election cannot be ruled out and Iran might end up having to deal with him for another six years. But he said that the U.S. should “seriously alter their behavior” to make it possible for Iran to negotiate.

The Trump administration in turn has put forth twelve conditions for Iran to meet before Washington would change policy toward Tehran. The U.S. is demanding that the Islamic Republic stop supporting militant groups, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas and the Taliban. It also wants Iran not to interfere in the affairs of regional countries.