Yemen, Iran, Khashoggi murder top Pompeo’s talks in Saudi Arabia

Mike Pompeo

Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

"We will continue to work to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi are accountable", Pompeo said Friday on the USA channel Fox News.

"On #Yemen, agreed on need for continued de-escalation and adherence to Sweden agreements, especially cease-fire and redeployment in #Hudaydah", the U.S. embassy in Riyadh tweeted on Monday after a meeting between Pompeo and Prince Mohammed.

Arriving in Riyadh, Pompeo was greeted at the airport by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and U.S. Charge D'Affaires Christopher Henzel.

"We're hoping that the unity of GCC will increase in the days and weeks and months ahead", Pompeo said, adding that Gulf unity was essential for a planned Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) that would also include Jordan and Egypt.

After evidence emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the worldwide community demanded a transparent investigation.

In November, Middle East Eye reported that Saudi Arabia's king and the crown prince were shielding themselves from the Khashoggi murder scandal using a roadmap drawn up by Pompeo.

Pompeo's visit came as human rights groups have been calling on Saudi Arabia to provide independent worldwide monitors access to detained female prisoners amid mounting reports of torture and sexual harassment in Saudi prisons.

Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA, have strongly hinted that the killing could not have taken place without the authorisation of Prince Mohammed.

During his visit to Qatar, Pompeo refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

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Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all US allies, began a boycott of Qatar over a political dispute in June 2017 that continues today.

Qatar - also a U.S. ally - denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

Speaking with senior Saudi officials on his arrival in Riyadh late on Sunday, Pompeo stressed the importance of supporting a political solution to end Yemen's civil war and "the need for continued regional efforts to stand against the Iranian regime's malign activity and to advance peace, prosperity, and security", the State Department said.

"We are all more powerful when we are working together and disputes are limited", he said at a news conference in the Qatari capital.

"It's on everyone's mind and not at all clear that the rift is any closer to being resolved today than it was yesterday - and I regret that", Pompeo said.

Pompeo has already visited United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar as part of the tour.

The US, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of United States envoy Anthony Zinni - who quit because of an apparent "lack of will" on behalf of "regional leaders" for regional reconciliation.

"It was time for change and he made his decision to move on but America's commitment remains unchanged", said Pompeo of Zinni.

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