Can you elaborate on Oman's role within the GCC?
Oman is one of the founding members of the GCC. We believe in the GCC and its lofty goals and objectives. Oman will continue its role in promoting cooperation and sound integration between the GCC countries. We are of the view that there is so much that could be done within the GCC framework and institutions that would positively change the lives of the peoples of the region. Oman will continue to push for closer cooperation between the GCC countries and its economic partners in the region and beyond. These actions and measures should bring, in our view, further stability and greater prosperity to our region and the world at large.
How would you assess Oman's current foreign policy?
To understand Oman's foreign policy is to understand how skilled diplomacy works—how balancing interests, tolerance toward differences, and a determined search for mutual benefits can open international doors and keep them open, even during conflicts. Oman's foreign policy takes its directions from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's vision, which aims at building bridges of friendship and opening up new horizons of cooperation and cordial relations with other countries, based on the principles of mutual respect, non interference in other's internal affairs, good neighborliness, and dialogue as the most suitable mean to resolve differences. Oman's foreign policy has become a means of promoting economic and social development at home, as well as a force for peace, stability, and security for the Sultanate, its neighbors, and the world at large.
What has been the most significant foreign policy achievement of 2013?
Oman strives to promote peace and contribute to eliminating tension in the region and beyond. In this regard, it has played a positive, pivotal role in helping diffuse tensions and narrow differences between countries. We in Oman are content with how things are shaping up between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the 5+1 group of countries. We are confident that they will manage to steer the negotiations to a successful outcome that would end years of mistrust and replace it with understanding. We are also confident that the GCC initiative is the most viable tool out there to help our brethren in the Republic of Yemen in their pursuit of reconciliation and a better and a more secure country.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently visited the Sultanate of Oman. What is the importance of his visit?
Exchange of high-level visits between countries reflects positively on bilateral relations. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said welcomes world leaders to Oman, and highly values their interest in our country. State visits at this high level provide valuable opportunity to exchange views on various matters of bilateral and mutual interests. The visit of Prime Minister Abe to Oman has undoubtedly provided an opportunity for further cooperation with an important partner such as Japan. The visit was concluded with a Joint Communiqué reflecting both countries aspirations for the coming years. We are hopeful that this visit will further expand relations between Oman and Japan in various sectors including the exchange and transfer of Japanese knowledge and know-how to Oman.
Can you elaborate on the main highlights of the latest visit of Iran's President Rouhani to Oman?
President Rouhani's visit to Oman signifies the importance of the relations between the two neighboring countries. We share with Iran not only geography, but a common history. Oman is confident that closer cooperation would lead to a better and prosperous future for both countries. President Rouhani's visit to Oman comes after His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran right after the election of President Rouhani. Our relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran encompass a wide range of issues, including politics, economy, and culture. Our cooperation contributes to regional and international peace and security.