US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on an eight-day tour of the Middle East, arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
He was greeted at the Saudi capital’s airport by Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Khaled ben Salmane, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington, and Christopher Henzel, US Charge d’Affaires in Washington. Riyadh.
The head of the State Department and these two Saudi officials spoke for an hour, according to reporters traveling with Pompeo. The State Department said they had discussed tensions with Iran, the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, but also the case of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It is expected that Mike Pompeo will also be received, during his stay in Riyadh, by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed ben Salmane (aka MBS), de facto ruler of the kingdom, to discuss the investigation into the death of Jamal Khashoggi .
The latter, who had gone into exile in the United States and published articles critical of the Saudi monarchy, was killed on October 2 while he was at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul .
In a report, the CIA estimated that Mohamed bin Salman had ordered the assassination of Khashoggi . Senior Turkish officials have linked the death of the journalist to the highest levels of the Saudi government without criminalizing MBS. The Saudi authorities deny the charges against Mohamed bin Salman.
United Front against Iran
Before Riyadh, Mike Pompeo had estimated in Doha that the crisis between Qatar and the Arab Gulf countries had been going on for far too long and was threatening the regional unity needed to counter Shiite Iran.
“When we have a common challenge, litigation between like-minded countries never helps,” said Pompeo in Doha at a news conference.
“They never allow you to respond firmly, as you would like, to common adversaries or common challenges,” he said as well.
“We hope that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) unit will strengthen in the days, weeks and months to come,” added Pompeo.
Saudi Arabia, the GCC-affiliated Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Egypt, broke off diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and getting closer to their regional enemy, Iran, which Doha denies.
In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Mike Pompeo said that the United States would co-host an international conference on the Middle East with Poland, and Iran in particular on February 13 and 14.
The current tour of the head of the State Department is aimed at reassuring Washington’s allies in the region, worried about the announced withdrawal of some 2,000 US troops from Syria. Pompeo has already visited several countries, including Egypt and Jordan.