Jeddah - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Monday with Saudi Arabia’s rulers as he sought to coordinate with allies over soaring tensions with Iran.
On a day trip scheduled after Iran shot down a US drone, Pompeo flew into the Red Sea city of Jeddah and met with King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz at his palace.
“You are a dear friend,” the king told Pompeo as he shook hands with the top US diplomat and his aides.
Pompeo later opened talks with crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. The top US diplomat was due to fly later Monday to the UAE.
Both Saudi Arabia and UAE advocate strong US approach against Iran, whose downing of the unmanned drone prompted President Donald Trump to order a military strike before changing his mind.
Pompeo, speaking to reporters as he left Washington, called Saudi Arabia and the UAE “two great allies in the challenge that Iran presents”.
“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition,” Pompeo said.
He said the United States sought a coalition “not only throughout the Gulf states but in Asia and in Europe that understands this challenge and that is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror”.
Iran says that the US drone encroached its airspace - a charge that Washington denies - and accuses Washington of waging economic warfare by unilaterally imposing sanctions, including trying to stop all its oil exports.
The US pointman on Iran, Brian Hook, on Monday held his own talks in Oman, which has often served as a go-between for Washington and Tehran.
Pompeo added the Middle East stops on his way to a previously scheduled visit to India.