Muscat: A top US official yesterday praised the Sultanate for its efforts in maintaining political stability and boosting economic prosperity in the region.
Addressing the media at the US embassy in Muscat yesterday, Beth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, US Department of State, who is on a visit to Muscat, also said that military intervention is "not a route to solve the Syrian crisis".
She added: "Though I haven't met any Omani officials yet, I shall discuss with them various issues, including anti-piracy, the issue of keeping Strait of Hormuz open, increasing business opportunities and more student exchange programmes for the benefit of both the countries."
She also affirmed the USA's keenness to activate and develop Omani-American relations in various cultural and economic fields. Jones said her visit comes at an opportune time when Omanis are voting for the Municipal Councils polls.
The US official expressed her country's keenness to expand cultural and scientific cooperation with the Sultanate and increasing the number of Omani students visiting the US for studies.
"There has been a 70 per cent increase in the student visa category," she informed.
"What we have done is that we have recognised Syria's main opposition group as the sole 'legitimate representative' of its country's people. And this is a big step in the international diplomatic efforts to end Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's embattled regime," she said.
The US, she said, is providing nonlethal aid to certain factions of the opposition, hoping to bolster 'responsible' new leaders.
"Besides that, a fund has already been created to look after the Syrian refugees. This aid package will be used for giving blankets, cooking sets, mattresses and plastic sheets to refugees," she said, while adding that the first priority of the United States is to ensure the safety and security of the region.