Queen Elizabeth II attends equestrian show in Oman

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip attended an equestrian show on Saturday during a visit to Oman marking four decades of the sultan's rule in the Gulf state.

Accompanied by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, the royal couple watched the show in Al-Seeb, west of the capital Muscat. It included equestrian martial arts, folkloric dances and horse racing.

Wearing a golden-buttoned turquoise suit with matching hat, the monarch, who arrived in Oman on Thursday from neighbouring United Arab Emirates (UAE), was greeted by schoolchildren waving British and Omani flags.

Sultan Qaboos, who is celebrating his 40th year on the throne, sat to the 84-year-old monarch's left while Prince Philip sat, binoculars in hand, on her other side.

On Friday at the sultan's Al-Alam Palace, they discussed "the historical relations binding the two friendly countries (and) aspects of the existing close cooperation ... in all fields," the official ONA news agency said.

The visit "is an opportunity to celebrate our thriving relationship" with Oman "which has been transformed since her Majesty last visited in 1979... and to look forward to even stronger ties," Hague said in a statement.

He said Britain wanted to boost cooperation in trade, education, energy security, defence and foreign policy with the Arab countries of the oil-rich Gulf.

Oman, the second and final leg of the queen's Gulf tour, has a history of close economic and military ties with Britain.

In the UAE, Hague signed a number of agreements with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, including an accord on "civil nuclear cooperation," the Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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