Manama: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is moving ahead with his meetings in GCC states to promote Washington’s current priorities in the Middle East that include “countering Iran, destroying Daesh and ensuring regional stability”.
“Countering Iran, the threat from the world’s largest state sponsor of terror – the Islamic Republic of Iran – is something President Trump has identified as one of his top priorities,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
“We are determined to do that; we will do it with our partners in the Middle East. This is a mission for the world. It’s incredibly important and we are determined to do it.”
Pompeo started his GCC tour with Bahrain on Friday following visits to Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.
The highlight of the multi-leg tour is his visit to Saudi Arabia where he will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. He is expected to once again stress that Saudi-US relations would keep moving forward in the aftermath of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul on October 2.
“President Trump made clear immediately in the aftermath of this murder that the relationship is broader and deeper and bigger than that,” Pompeo told Al Arabiya.
“We absolutely have expectations when things go wrong, when heinous acts have occurred, people need to be held accountable for this, but this relationship predated that and the relationship must go forward.”
In in an interview he taped with CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Pompeo said that he would talk about Khashoggi.
“And then we’ll talk about all the important things we do with Saudi Arabia and all the support they provide to keep Americans in Kansas and Colorado and California and in Washington, DC, safe,” he said.
The State Department last week said Pompeo will in Riyadh meet Saudi leaders to discuss key bilateral and regional priorities, including Yemen, Iran, and Syria.
“The Secretary and Saudi leaders will discuss ways to continue bolstering UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths as he works toward a comprehensive political agreement among parties to end the conflict and realise a brighter future for Yemen. The Secretary also will seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
In Muscat, his next destination after Riyadh, Pompeo will meet Omani leaders “to discuss ways to promote peace throughout the region, including in Yemen, and build upon the strong US-Oman partnership.”
Talks will also cover “the Middle East Strategic Alliance and the importance of a united GCC in advancing the peace, prosperity, and security of the region.”
In Kuwait, his agenda includes signing an agreement to boost the ongoing Strategic Dialogue as well as memoranda in the areas of defence, security and economy, Reem Al Khalid, the assistant foreign minister for the Americas, said.
During the visit by the Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to Washington in September, the two countries signed several accords to cement their relationship, she added.
“The talks will also present an opportunity to delve into several regional and global matters, namely the Gulf dispute, relations between the Gulf states and Iran and the situations in Syria, Yemen and Libya,” she said.
The Strategic Dialogue, in its third annual session, will include the regular topics of defence, education, economics, consulate and customs affairs, civil aviation and cyber security. However, trade and scientific research will be added for the first time.