Khashoggi killing: Pom­peo to seek ac­count­abil­ity

He will ask Saudi Crown Prince to en­sure that the jour­nal­ist’s killers are held ac­count­able

The Straits Times - - TOP OF THE NEWS -

DOHA • US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said he will ask Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man to en­sure the killers of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi are held ac­count­able for their crime.

The top United States diplo­mat, on an ex­ten­sive Mid­dle East tour, spoke ahead of a po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive visit to Saudi Ara­bia, which has faced in­tense in­ter­na­tional scru­tiny over Mr Khashoggi’s mur­der in­side its Is­tan­bul con­sulate.

“We will con­tinue to have a con­ver­sa­tion with the Crown Prince and the Saudis about en­sur­ing the ac­count­abil­ity is full and com­plete with re­spect to the un­ac­cept­able mur­der of Ja­mal Khashoggi,” Mr Pom­peo told re­porters at a press con­fer­ence in Qatar yes­ter­day.

“So, 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.”

Mr Pom­peo was due to travel to Saudi Ara­bia later yes­ter­day as part of an eight-day trip to Am­man, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Mus­cat and, fi­nally, Kuwait City.

He was speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in Doha after meet­ing his Qatari coun­ter­part, Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man al-Thani. He will meet the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad al-Thani, be­fore head­ing to Saudi Ara­bia.

On a pre­vi­ous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi af­fair, Mr Pom­peo’s broad smiles with the Crown Prince caused out­rage among some Amer­i­cans.

How­ever, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has said Wash­ing­ton wants to pre­serve the al­liance with the king­dom, al­though the US Se­nate has clearly blamed Prince Mo­hammed for the mur­der.

Wash­ing­ton is ea­ger for re­gional unity to gain wide­spread sup­port for its fight against Iran. Mr Pom­peo yes­ter­day re­fused to com­ment on re­ports that Wash­ing­ton had re­cently con­sid­ered mil­i­tary ac­tion against Te­heran.

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf coun­tries to end the worst po­lit­i­cal rift in the re­gion for years, which has seen Doha diplo­mat­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally iso­lated by neigh­bour­ing for­mer al­lies for the past 19 months. Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt – all US al­lies – cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ist groups and seek­ing closer ties to Saudi arch-ri­val Iran.

Qatar – also a US ally – de­nies the al­le­ga­tions and ac­cuses the coun­tries of seek­ing regime change.

“As for the GCC... we are all more pow­er­ful when we’re work­ing to­gether when we have com­mon chal­lenges in the re­gion and around the world,” Mr Pom­peo said, re­fer­ring to the six mem­ber na­tions of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil.

Wash­ing­ton, 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 US en­voy An­thony Zinni.

For Wash­ing­ton, turn­ing the page on the cri­sis is es­sen­tial for the suc­cess­ful launch of the Mid­dle East Strate­gic Al­liance, which is a Nato-style se­cu­rity pact that in­cludes Gulf coun­tries as well as Egypt and Jor­dan.

The US and Qatar held their sec­ond “strate­gic di­a­logue” yes­ter­day, and signed agree­ments on de­fence, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo was due to travel toSaudi Ara­bia later yes­ter­day as part of an eight-day Mid­dle East tour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.