Pom­peo to call for full facts on writer’s mur­der

Mid­dle East: US pledge to hold Saudis ac­count­able

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY 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 Mo­hammed bin Sal­man when he trav­els to Saudi as part of his Mid­dle East tour.

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

Mem­bers of the crown prince’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.

Mr 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.”

Mr 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”.

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 US.

Mr Pom­peo signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Qatari deputy PM Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man bin Jas­sim Al Thani on the ex­pan­sion of al-Udeid Air Base, which hosts the for­ward HQ of the US mil­i­tary’s Cen­tral Com­mand and some 10,000 Amer­i­can troops.

Later, speak­ing to a US em­bassy staff mem­ber in Qatar who said her job was mov­ing to the UAE due to the boy­cott, Mr 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 UAE be­gan a boy­cott of Qatar in June 2017, al­leg­ing it funds ex­trem­ist groups and is too close diplo­mat­i­cally to Iran.

Qatar de­nies ex­trem­ism but shares a mas­sive off­shore nat­u­ral gas field with Iran that gives its cit­i­zens the high­est per­capita in­come in the world.

It re­stored diplo­matic ties with Iran af­ter the cri­sis erupted, mark­ing a set­back for Saudi Ara­bia, which views the Shi’ite Iran as its main re­gional ri­val.

AL­LIES: Mike Pom­peo signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing about a vi­tal US mil­i­tary base with Qatar’s deputy prime min­is­ter

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