Pompeo to call for full facts on writer’s murder
Middle East: US pledge to hold Saudis accountable
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