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Rumsfeld Meets Omani Monarch in Tent by the Sea

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

CAIRO, Oct. 4, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met today with the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Sa'id Al Sa'id.

Qaboos was on a semiannual visit with his subjects when Rumsfeld caught up with him at a seaside tent city, called a "sham camp," to discuss relations between the United States and Oman, DoD officials said.

"They had a big encampment where they had a camel race this morning. They have seminars for their people and a number of tents (set up)," Rumsfeld said. "We did meet in a tent, and (I) had a very long visit with an exceedingly interesting and thoughtful individual."

The secretary is on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East and Central Asia that will have included Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Uzbekistan by the time he returns to Washington Oct. 6. He spoke to reporters Oct. 4 while en route here from Muscat, the capital of Oman. He was scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later in the day.

What was to have been a half-hour meeting with Qaboos ended 65 minutes later with both men expressing how much they value the relationship between their two countries, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said.

Rumsfeld earlier had said he wasn't in the region to discuss specifics of America's war on terrorism, only to "strengthen relationships."

"Secretary Rumsfeld wanted to express our support and appreciation for the sympathy they extended to the United States after Sept. 11," Clarke said of the meeting with the Omani monarch.

Rumsfeld described having a meeting of the minds on issues surrounding terrorism. "(Qaboos) had a good number of very interesting thoughts about the problem of terrorism and the situation in the Middle East," he said. "Our discussion really ran to the fact that people are trained to be terrorists and they then go about that activity. It's important for us to understand that that is totally apart from any faith."

Clarke, who had attended the meeting, described the visit in similar terms. "It was a very open discussion about the nature of terrorism and how it takes more than military might to fight it," she said.

Rumsfeld wouldn't, however, discuss rumors that America is basing troops in Oman. He said yet again that he preferred to let other countries characterize the support they're lending the United States.

"Each country is doing what they're doing slightly differently, and they have their way of characterizing it," he said. "It seems to me that that's fair, proper and certainly to our advantage."

Sources present at the meeting said Qaboos noted sometimes good can come from evil. Speaking in English and not using a translator to meet with Rumsfeld, Qaboos indicated he believed that increased international cooperation and diligence might prevent something much worse in the future.

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