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Pompeo heads home after pushing Israel deal on Middle East tour

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Al-Burhan in Sudan [Sudanese Presidency/Handout/Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 27 August, 2020

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed home apparently empty-handed after stops in Bahrain, Oman and Sudan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed home Thursday after a whirlwind Middle East tour during which he sought to encourage Arab nations to follow the UAE and recognise Israel.

However he left after stops in Bahrain, Oman and Sudan apparently empty-handed with none of the conservative Arab nations for now willing to follow Abu Dhabi and normalise ties with the Jewish state.

"Met today with Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said on the importance of building regional peace, stability, and prosperity through a united Gulf Cooperation Council," Pompeo tweeted as he left Oman, the last stop on his itinerary. 

"Grateful for our strong security partnership and economic ties."

Oman's official news agency ONA reported that "aspects of the existing bilateral cooperation between the Sultanate and the United States were reviewed within the framework of the strong relations that bind them," but made no reference to relations with Israel.

Pompeo was the first high-level Western official to meet Sultan Haitham, who succeeded Sultan Qaboos who died in January after being in power for some five decades.

Oman has long had dialogue with Israel and welcomed the United Arab Emirates' August 13 announcement that it had normalised ties, while reaffirming its support for the Palestinians. 

The US chief diplomat had said he was hopeful other nations would follow the UAE, which became only the third Arab country to establish relations with the Jewish state, after Egypt and Jordan.

Read also: Will Saudi follow suit and normalise relations with Israel?

However, Sudan's transitional government on Tuesday dashed hopes for a speedy breakthrough, saying it has "no mandate" to take such a weighty step.

And Bahrain echoed the sentiments of its ally, regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, that an accord with Israel would not materialise without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

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