Clinton meets Qaboos in Oman

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Wednesday in Muscat Oman's Sultan Qaboos and civil society representatives, as part of her five-day tour of the region.

Clinton arrived Tuesday night in Oman from Sanaa, where she made a brief surprise visit to Yemen aimed at helping President Ali Abdullah Saleh tackle problems that allow Al-Qaeda to threaten his country and the West.

The two leaders discussed cooperation between the Oman and the United States as well as regional and international developments, reported state news agency ONA.

During a town hall meeting with Omani civic leaders, Clinton praised the "progress" Oman has made since Qaboos came to power after overthrowing his father, Sultan Said bin Taymur, in a bloodless coup in 1970.

"Oman has made more progress than any other country in the world in the last 40 years. Oman has achieved stability at home and peace with" its neighbours, said Clinton.

She recalled how once there was only a small number of boys at school with no girls at all. Now, she said, education is universal with both men and women at universities.

The 2010 UN Human Development Report released in early November states that Oman made the most improvement since 1970, out of 135 countries, ahead of oil kingpin Saudi Arabia which ranked fifth.

Clinton, who has met civil society representatives throughout every stage of her regional tour, will head to Doha later Wednesday to participate in the Forum of the Future, the highlight of a tour organised around her push for a better partnership between governments, business and civil society.

The forum was set up by the George W. Bush administration so that leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, the Group of Eight leading industrial countries, and delegates from business and civil society could meet to discuss reform.

In addition to Sanaa, Clinton has also visited the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi and its commercial hub Dubai. She returns to Washington on Thursday.
 

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