Foreign Ministry's Yossi Gal visits Oman

Israel team makes rare v

Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal led an Israeli delegation to Oman on Sunday to take part in a meeting of the Middle East Desalination Research Center which groups a number of Arab countries and Israel. Israel generally sends a delegation each year to the center's board of governors' meeting, and the visit is not believed to presage any warming of relations between Israel and Oman. The center was set up to deal with regional water shortage issues. Although Israeli officials would not say whether Gal held talks outside the framework of the board of governor's meeting, AP quoted a senior Omani official as saying that the Israeli discussed the diplomatic process with his Omani counterparts. The official was quoted as saying that Oman would support "any effort that would help to resume the peace talks." Israel opened a trade office in Muscat in 1996, but Oman closed it in the fall of 2000 after the outbreak of the second intifada. Ever since, however, Israel has continued to take part in various deliberations of the Middle East Desalination Research Center.