81. Telegram From the Embassy in Oman to the Department of State1

1484. Department for PM. Subject: Habib Mission: 22 May Discussions. Ref: (A) Muscat 1480,2 (B) State 131748,3 (C) State 129143.4

1. (S-entire text).

2. Summary: In May 22 meeting with Habib Omanis agreed to signature of Access to Facilities Agreement and exchange of related documents June 3, noting that mutually acceptable press guidance would need to be agreed upon. Next steps for Joint Commission as outlined ref C acceptable. Omanis suggest first Joint Commission team arrive after June 15. Corps of Engineers team arrival welcome any time between June 15 and 20. Speeded up military equipment deliveries welcome with early arrival military training team for tanks top Omani priority. In response Zawawi’s expression of concern at Israeli settlements policy Habib answered further questions on State Middle East peace efforts and reiterated our commitment to CDA peace process. Zawawi said he hoped Secretary Muskie could visit Oman during any forthcoming trip to the Middle East. End summary.

3. On May 22 Habib team, accompanied by Ambassador Wiley and DCM Buck, met with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zawawi, MFA Under Secretary al-Alawi, Palace Office Director Suwaidan, MOD Under Secretary Ghazali and Zawawi’s Office Director Mohammed Nasser. In cordial and productive discussions agreement was reached on next steps regarding access and related agreements. Results follow.

4. Access agreements. Zawawi agreed to early signature of Access to Facilities Agreement, covering unclassified exchange of letters and provision of the two aides memoire on military construction and economic and security cooperation.5 Because he will be out of Oman from [Page 270] May 26 to May 30 on a visit to Baghdad and al-Alawi will be out of the country at the same time on a visit to Cairo, Zawawi suggested signature between May 30 and June 5. (Zawawi said he would also be away June 5 through June 12.) The date of June 3 was tentatively agreed. Because the exchange of notes will be unclassified and because of the need to inform Congress, it was agreed that mutually acceptable press guidance would have to be agreed upon prior to signature.

5. Joint Economic Commission. Habib outlined next steps we envisaged for the Joint Commission as described ref C. Omanis posed no objection to fielding of 3 man initial team and follow-up team. Teams would come after signature of access agreement and after mutually agreed arrangements regarding announcement and first meeting of the Joint Commission. Zawawi said that Economic Commission teams should not arrive until after June 15, when Development Council Secretary General Dr. Sherif Lutfy returns from leave.

6. Corps of Engineers team. Habib emphasized that it was important to field this team early after agreement signing ceremony in order to meet congressional budgetary requirements. Zawawi and Ghazali agreed and said that Corps of Engineers team arrival anytime in the period June 15–20 would be welcome. Omani authorities would ensure that team could begin work on the day following their arrival.

7. Military equipment deliveries. Habib reiterated that we are moving ahead on the delivery of six M–60 tanks and three transporters plus provision of a military training team (MTT) in July. General Shutler had brought the LOA’s for these items. On TOW, we had decided to accelerate delivery and provide all 20 launchers and 440 missiles in July rather than in July and December as originally envisaged. The letter of offer will be coming through Saudi Arabia. Also, Habib said we have now budgeted to provide a modest amount of military training for Oman using FY80 and 81 International Military Educational Training (IMET) funds. This would be for training primarily in the United States and over and above any training provided to Oman by military training teams in the country under LOA’s such as for the tanks. Zawawi commented that Oman would prefer as much in-country training as possible. Ghazali added that while arrival of the tanks in July as promised would be appreciated, the key factor would be early arrival of the MTT’s to provide the requisite training. Ghazali expressed interest in using training facilities in U.S., mentioning specifically staff college training.

8. Future military requirements. Referring to the Sultan’s statement regarding future Omani military requirements (ref A), Zawawi indicated that they would be likely to be back to us with further details regarding possible requirements for fixed wing fighter aircraft, helicopter gun ships and more tanks. Habib replied that we had reported Sultan’s interest.

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9. Middle East peace. Elaborating in some detail on Sultan’s comments on Middle East peace of the previous day, Zawawi emphasized Omani Government concern that the “momentum” of the Middle East peace negotiations should be maintained. He deplored the negative effects on the peace process of Israeli settlement policy. Oman would not like to see Egypt fail in its peace initiative because of Israeli stubbornness, Zawawi said. Habib reiterated USG opposition to Israeli settlement policy and commitment to the CDA peace process. Pointing out that USG does not favor the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, he emphasized that we were committed to continuation of a peace process leading to “full autonomy as well as a freely elected self-governing authority for the Palestinians” and “a resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects.” Present interruption in peace talks was not an indication of failure but of the fact that we were getting down to the hard core issues. Omanis expressed concern that failure of Egyptian initiative in the face of Israeli intransigence would not only make Egypt more isolated in the Arab world but could affect Sadat’s internal position and improve the Soviet position in the area. Zawawi emphasized that Sadat’s success will ultimately depend on the degree of effective U.S. support. Habib emphasized U.S. determination to support present negotiations and our expectation that they would be resumed shortly.

10. Muskie visit. Zawawi said he wished to formally reiterate that his government’s invitation to the Secretary stands. His government hopes that it will be possible for Secretary Muskie to visit Oman during any forthcoming visit to the Middle East. He also expressed on behalf of his government, the Omani people and His Majesty the Sultan, Oman’s best wishes to President Carter and the hope that the agreements and arrangements we were about to enter would prove to be a solid and durable basis for close and cooperative relations between Oman and the United States for decades. Habib thanked the Minister, affirmed the U.S. desire for cooperative relations, and noted that His Majesty the Sultan had a standing invitation from President Carter to visit the United States at a mutually agreeable date.

11. Embassy comments will follow.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800252–0830. Secret; Immediate; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 1480 from Muscat, May 22, the Embassy summarized the May 21 meeting between Habib and Sultan Qaboos, during which they discussed the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission and a number of regional and bilateral issues. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P880025–0881)
  3. Telegram 131748 to Muscat, May 19, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870143–0939.
  4. In telegram 129143 to Muscat, May 17, the Department indicated that the ongoing Washington-based interagency meetings were in the process of working out “details for initiation of Joint Commission which will be focal point of our new economic assistance relationship with Oman.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800242–1035)
  5. See Document 72.