Israel to Open Trade Office in Oman

A group of Israeli officials departed for Oman this week to prepare for the opening of Israel’s first trade office in a Persian Gulf state.

Diplomatic sources in the Omani capital of Muscat would not say when a formal ceremony would be held to mark the opening of the trade office.

Israel and Oman signed a trade agreement in January, and also agreed on other steps aimed at boosting cooperation.

While the agreements stopped short of establishing diplomatic relations, the Israeli official who will head the trade mission in Muscat said he hopes the new office would pave the way to the establishment of official ties with Oman.

“Perhaps this will eventually lead to the opening of an embassy here,” Oded Ben Haim told Israel Radio.

He added that the Omanis had already selected a government official to head the Omani trade office in Israel.

In April, Israel also reached an agreement with the Persian gulf state of Qatar to open trade offices in each other’s countries.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited both states in April, becoming the first Israeli leader to visit Qatar. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman in December 1994.

Israel has no diplomatic ties with any of the Persian Gulf states, which also include Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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