ASSOCIATED PRESS: The vice president’s visit to Oman, part of a 10-day trip to the Mideast, fueled speculation that the United States was ratcheting up military pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. As a quiet U.S. military ally, Oman allows the United States to use four air bases — including one just 50 miles from Iran — for refueling, logistics and storage of pre-positioned military supplies. Cheney denied that he’d stepped up his opposition to Iran’s nuclear policy.
“I’ve been pretty consistent over time about Iran,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ratcheted up the rhetoric. I felt strongly for a long time, and a lot of us have, that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”
Cheney officials said the vice president wanted to visit the sultanate to show U.S. appreciation for its cooperation in fighting terrorism, but that Iran would be a top topic of discussion. Before dining with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Cheney borrowed his 60-foot royal yacht and went fishing. A Cheney spokeswoman said the vice president, his wife Lynne, and daughter, Liz, a former State Department official who is traveling with her father as a private citizen, headed out under sunny skies into the Gulf of Oman on “Kingfish I.” Cheney has had a personal relationship with the sultan going back to the time when the vice president was defense secretary, but the sultan did not go along on the fishing trip. MORE