Viewing cable 04MUSCAT2178

04MUSCAT21782004-12-14 13:23:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 002178 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2014 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III. 
Reason: 1.4 (b, d). 
¶1. (C) On December 13, at the margins of an Executive Council 
meeting of the Middle East Desalination Research Center 
(MEDREC), an Israeli Foreign Ministry official held a private 
90-minute bilateral with Minister Responsible for Foreign 
Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi.  The discussion reportedly focused 
on Palestine, Syria, and Iran.  While the Israeli and Omani 
viewpoints did not always coincide, the Israelis were greatly 
encouraged by the relaxed and open nature of the 
conversation, and by signs that positive trends toward Middle 
East peace will likely spur continued bilateral contacts with 
Oman.  End summary. 
An Auspicious Opportunity 
¶2. (C) Visiting NEA/RA Senior Advisor for S&T Charles Lawson, 
attending an Executive Council meeting of the MEDRC, informed 
us of the Israeli delegation's readout of the Israelis' 
December 13 bilateral meeting with Minister Responsible for 
Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi (YBA).  (Note: MEDRC is a 
vestige of the MEPP Track II initiatives coming from the 
peace process prior to the second Intifada. The US, EU, 
Japan, Israel and Arab neighbors belong to it; MEDREC's 
headquarters is in Muscat.  End note.) 
¶3. (C) According to a technical water expert on the Israeli 
delegation, Tel Aviv viewed Oman's decision to host the MEDRC 
Executive Council as an opportunity for a low-key bilateral 
with MFA Under Secretary Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi, who is 
Oman's representative on the Council.  After working to get 
Omani concurrence for the Israeli MFA's Deputy DG for Near 
East Affairs Shalom Cohen to join the delegation, the 
Israelis were disappointed to learn that Sayyid Badr would be 
going to Rabat for the Forum for the Future meeting and thus 
not be available.  They were informed, however, that YBA 
himself would meet with Cohen. 
On Palestine, Syria and Iran 
¶4. (C) The Israelis informed Lawson that the lunchtime 
meeting on December 13 actually lasted a full 90 minutes, 
with YBA conducting a relaxed and open conversation.  The two 
sides reportedly agreed on the need to support Abu Mazen, 
with YBA noting that the interim Palestinian leader is due to 
visit Muscat on December 18.  YBA allegedly held open the 
possibility that, should Israel permit the Palestinian 
elections to take place under reasonable conditions, the 
Omanis could perhaps welcome another Israeli MFA visit at the 
DG level in late March. 
¶5. (C) On the subject of Syria, the Israelis claimed that YBA 
was frank in offering his advice, warning Tel Aviv not to 
take seriously any Syrian overtures for negotiations at the 
present time.  YBA was said to have recounted his personal 
experiences with the Syrian President, for whom he initially 
had high hopes but now sees as being essentially tethered to 
the conservative holdovers from his father's regime.  YBA 
reportedly also said that Syria may be limited in its ability 
to rein in Hezbollah, fearing the organization has grown too 
strong to control.  The Israelis reportedly disagreed with 
this assessment.  On Iran, YBA's main thrust was that Tehran 
was currently focused inward and need not be viewed with 
undue concern, either with respect to nuclear ambitions or 
Hezbollah.  (Note: This characterization of YBA's views on 
Iran are not wholly consistent with our experiences with him. 
 End note.)  Again, the Israelis reportedly disagreed on the 
scope of the Iranian threat. 
A Positive Start 
¶6. (C) In total, the Israelis gave a positive assessment of 
their longer-than-expected meeting with the Minister.  While 
no specifics were addressed on the issue of reopening the 
Israeli trade mission in Muscat, for instance, the inference 
was that a continuation of working-level contacts is wholly 
possible should recent positive trends prevail.  As further 
evidence, one of the Israeli water experts was invited 
December 14 to meet with scientists at Sultan Qaboos 
University on the possibility of cooperation in the area of 
cloud seeding.  The Israelis proudly noted that the Omani MFA 
put a car and driver at their disposal.  We are likewise 
encouraged that YBA took advantage of this meeting, perhaps 
partially in response to our encouraging Oman to find ways to 
promote Middle East peace in light of recent changes in the 
Palestinian leadership. 
¶7. (U) NEA/RA Lawson did not clear this message.