Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 19:57 UK

Olympic torch relay reaches Oman

Sayyd Shehab bin Tariq, a consultant of Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos, carries the Olympic torch in Muscat, Oman, 14 April, 2008
The Olympic torch relay was expected to go smoothly in Oman

The Olympic torch is being paraded in Oman, the relay's only Middle East stop on its way to the host country, China.

The torch arrived in Oman's capital, Muscat, early on Monday morning from Tanzania, where the relay run passed off without incident.

The parade in Oman was not expected to feature the human rights protests that have caused chaos at previous legs in London, Paris and San Francisco.

Oman has strong economic ties with China, a major importer of its oil.

Oman's Sports Minister Ali bin Massoud bin Ali al-Sunaidi and Chinese diplomats received the torch when it arrived at 0530 (0130GMT).

The parade was taking place in the evening to avoid high temperatures during the day.

About 80 athletes and other well-known personalities are carrying the flame 20km (12 miles) though the city.

The atmosphere was reported to be festive, with hundreds of people lining the route, including children waving miniature Olympic and Omani flags.

There was also extra security, with streets along the torch's route closed off, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Protests by activists angered by China's policies on Tibet and Darfur have forced several previous legs of the relay to be shortened or diverted.

After Oman, the Olympic torch heads for the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Torch lit in Olympia on 24 March and taken on five-day relay around Greece to Athens
After handover ceremony, taken to Beijing on 31 March to begin a journey of 136,800 km (85,000 miles) around the world

Torch arrives in Macau on 3 May. After three-month relay all around China, it arrives in Beijing for opening ceremony on 8 August


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