Pom­peo to urge ac­count­abil­ity over Khashoggi killing

Irish Examiner - - World News - Matthew Lee

The US sec­re­tary of state will ask Saudi Ara­bia’s crown prince to en­sure that the killers of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi are held ac­count­able.

Mike Pom­peo will meet Mo ham med bin Sal man when he trav­els to Saudi Ara­bia as part of his Mid­dle East tour.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Riyadh and Wash­ing­ton re­mains tense fol­low­ing the Oc­to­ber as­sas­si­na­tion of Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Khashoggi at the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

Mem­bers of Crown Prince Mo ham med bin Sal man’ s en­tourage have been im­pli­cated in the killing and US mem­bers of Con­gress have de­manded Amer­ica pull back its sup­port of the Saudi-led war in Ye­men.

Pom­peo said: “We will con­tinue to have a con­ver­sa­tion with the crown prince and the Saudis about en­sur­ing that the ac­count­abil­ity is full and com­plete with re­spect to the un­ac­cept­able mur­der of Ja­mal Khashoggi.

“We’ll con­tinue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held ac­count­able cer­tainly by the Saudis, but by the United States as well, where ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Pom­peo has also said that an on­go­ing boy­cott of Qatar by four of Amer­ica’s al­lies in the Mid­dle East “has dragged on too long” though he gave no sign of a com­ing break­through in the dis­pute.

Stop­ping off in the small, en­ergy-rich na­tion on the tour, he made a re­peated point to say that“great things” were hap­pen­ing be­tween Qatar and the United States.

“We’re all more pow­er­ful when we’re work­ing to­gether. Dis­putes be­tween coun­tries that have a shared ob­jec­tive are never help­ful,” said Pom­peo.

Pom­peo said he signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Qatar re­gard­ing the ex­pan­sion and ren­o­va­tion of al-Udeid Air Base, which hosts the for­ward head­quar­ters of the US mil­i­tary’s Cen­tral Com­mand and 10,000 US troops.

How­ever, com­ments by Pom­peo and Qatari for­eign min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man Al Thani gave no sense of any move­ment in the on­go­ing diplo­matic cri­sis with Doha.

Later, speak­ing to a US em­bassy staff mem­ber in Qatar who said her job was mov­ing to the UAE due to the boy­cott’s ef­fects, Pom­peo was even more frank.

“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,” he said.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates be­gan a boy­cott of Qatar in June 2017, al­leg­ing Qatar funds ex­trem­ist groups and has too-cosy ties to Iran.

Qatar has long de­nied fund­ing ex­trem­ists, but Doha shares a mas­sive off­shore nat­u­ral gas field with Tehran that gives its cit­i­zens the high­est per­capita in­come in the world.

It re­stored diplo­matic re­la­tions with Iran after the cri­sis erupted, mark­ing a set­back for Saudi Ara­bia, which views the Shia power Iran as its main re­gional ri­val.

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