Pompeo talks tough on Iran, Gulf dispute in Saudi Arabia visit

Pompeo talks tough on Iran, Gulf dispute in Saudi Arabia visit

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is utilizing the Center East leg of his first journey overseas as America’s high diplomat to name for concerted worldwide motion to punish Iran for its missile applications.

He is additionally urging Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to resolve a long-festering dispute with Qatar that U.S. officers say Iran is exploiting to spice up its affect within the area, together with in Yemen and Syria.

Pompeo met Sunday with Saudi King Salman, whose nation, together with Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, is embroiled in a row with Qatar that had hobbled Gulf Arab unity and pissed off the U.S. because it seeks to blunt rising Iranian assertiveness.

The ex-CIA chief had arrived in Riyadh a day earlier, shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired missiles at Saudi Arabia’s southern metropolis of Jizan, killing one particular person and underscoring what U.S. officers stated is a rising risk emanating from Iran.

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Senior U.S. officers touring with Pompeo blamed Iran for smuggling the missiles into Yemen. They stated the incident highlighted the significance of the Trump administration’s push to counter Iran within the area. Iran has additionally offered essential assist to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Iran destabilizes this complete area,” Pompeo stated briefly remarks to journalists with Saudi Overseas Minister Adel al-Jubeir, taking no questions. Whereas not mentioning Qatar by title, Pompeo additionally burdened that Gulf unity was “important.”

Al-Jubeir stated the dominion “helps the coverage of the Trump administration in opposition to Iran and to enhance the phrases of the nuclear settlement with Iran.”

Senior U.S. officers, who weren’t licensed to preview Pompeo’s discussions with the Saudi management and spoke on situation of anonymity, stated he would make it clear to the Saudis that the dispute with Qatar should finish.

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Mediation efforts led by Kuwait and supported by the U.S., together with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Trump fired final month, have confirmed unsuccessful. The cut up provides Iran “room to play” and hampers cooperation on a big selection of different points, together with combatting violent extremism from the Islamic State and different teams, the officers stated.

The officers stated Pompeo would name on different nations to impose harder sanctions in opposition to Iranian people, companies and authorities businesses concerned in missile growth. They stated he’d additionally stress the U.S. dedication to the protection of Saudi Arabia, Israel and different buddies and companions within the area. Pompeo may even press the Saudis on contributing extra to stabilization efforts in territory in Syria just lately liberated from the Islamic State group, the officers stated.

Pompeo’s conferences in Saudi Arabia, which might be adopted by discussions in Israel and Jordan, come simply weeks forward of a number of key dates that might carry additional volatility to the area.

Trump has set a Might 12 deadline to resolve whether or not to drag out of the Iran nuclear deal, one thing he seems prone to do regardless of heavy stress to remain in from European and different events.

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Two days later, the U.S. plans to open its new embassy in Jerusalem. That may mark a major shift in a long time of American coverage towards Israel and the Palestinians, who additionally declare the holy metropolis as their capital.

The embassy transfer is deeply opposed by the Palestinians, who on Might 15 will mark the anniversary of what they time period the “nakba,” or disaster, after they fled or had been pushed from their houses in the course of the 1948 warfare that attended Israel’s creation. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fireplace throughout current violent protests alongside border between Israel and Gaza.

On Friday at a NATO overseas ministers assembly in Brussels, the primary cease on his journey, Pompeo repeated Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the Iran deal except it’s considerably strengthened. He stated the U.S. was “unlikely” to remain in if that was not completed.

“Absent a considerable repair, absent overcoming the shortcomings, the issues of the deal, he’s unlikely to remain in that deal previous this Might,” Pompeo stated.

Additionally looming over the journey is uncertainty over Trump’s coverage on Syria, which has shifted between a speedy all-out withdrawal of American forces and leaving a long-lasting footprint to discourage Iran from finishing a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut.

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