Israelis Encountering Trouble Gaining Entry to Talks in Oman

The United States is working to ensure that Israeli diplomats and journalists will be allowed to go to Oman for multilateral peace talks, in the wake of indications that the Persian Gulf emirate has backtracked on its earlier pledge to permit Israeli visitors.

Oman is hosting the upcoming round of multilateral talks dealing with regional water issues.

To prepare for those talks, scheduled for April 17-20, a team of Israeli diplomats was to depart for Oman this week. But the advance team was rebuffed by the Omani government, Ruth Yaron, spokeswoman for the Israeli Embassy here, confirmed Tuesday.

Yaron said the Israeli team planned to depart for the Arab country in a few days to a week.

“We expect the matter to be resolved soon,” she said.

According to reports in the Israeli press, the central issue was the refusal by Oman to allow Israeli journalists to cover the peace talks, as originally promised when Oman committed to hosting the talks.

Israeli officials, through the Americans, made it known to Oman that if Israel’s journalists cannot attend the talks, neither will its diplomats.

A source at the State Department confirmed that the Clinton administration had been in contact with officials from Israel and Oman to discuss the entry of the Israeli team.

When the advance team does make it to Oman, securing entry for the Israeli journalists will top its agenda.

Oman is one of several Arab countries hosting the new round of multilateral talks, which is taking place in April and May.

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