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UK announces joint Omani-British military training base

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Steet, London, Britain, October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain announced on Monday it would open a joint military training base in Oman in March 2019 as it looks to bolster its relationships with allies in the region.

At a time of rising tension in the oil-producing Gulf region, Britain is diplomatically entwined in overlapping conflicts and disagreements involving Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson announced the British-Omani training base as he visited the country to observe the end of a large-scale joint military exercise involving thousands of personnel practicing desert combat.

“Our relationship with Oman is built on centuries of cooperation and we are cementing that long into the future with the opening of our new joint base,” Williamson said in a statement released by his department.

“This has never been more important as malign activity by hostile states and violent extremist organisations seek to undermine stability and subvert the rules based order on which we all rely.”

Earlier this year, Britain also opened a permanent military base in Bahrain. [nL5N1RI5ME]

Williamson also signalled in meetings with Omani leaders his intent to sign a new bilateral agreement early next year which would cover enhanced defence ties and broader cooperation, the Ministry of Defence said.

Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden