Pompeo: Time to Heal Rift between Qatar, Gulf States

14 January, 2019, 18:37 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Pompeo: Time to Heal Rift between Qatar, Gulf States

"The work that was done in Sweden on Yemen was good, but both sides (need) to honour those commitments", Pompeo said in Riyadh following talks with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the latest stop of his Middle East tour that has so far been dominated by questions and concerns about the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria.

The State Department said Pompeo also made clear the importance of a credible investigation into Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in October.

The Washington Post columnist's slaying by a Saudi hit squad prompted worldwide outrage, especially among United States media outlets and politicians.

However, Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the oil-rich kingdom, which he sees as a bulwark against common foe Iran and a lucrative buyer of U.S. arms.

In protest over the president's handling of the matter, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan resolution that put the blame for the killing of Khashoggi squarely on the Saudi crown prince.

Pompeo said Saudi Arabia was "still working through their fact-finding process" in the case, and that the U.S.is doing the same.

"We spoke about human rights issues here in Saudi Arabia, women activists", the top United States diplomat said.

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Acknowledging that Pompeo is set to seek an update on the Khashoggi murder investigation, al-Hathloul's sister, Alia al-Hathloul, noted that, "I am struck by what is not included in Mr. Pompeo's itinerary: the courageous women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom's prisons for seeking rights and dignity".

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 neighboring former allies for the past 19 months. "When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful", Pompeo, who is on an eight-day tour of the Middle East, told a news conference in the Qatari capital Doha.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all US allies, began a blockade of Qatar in June 2017 that continues today. The four countries also issued several demands, insisting that Qatar must shut down the Al-Jazeera TV Channel, reduce ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base in the country.

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

In Doha on Sunday, Pompeo made similar remarks but said that while the United States could try to play peacemaker, it is ultimately up to the countries involved to resolve the situation.

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

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of United States envoy Anthony Zinni.

Speaking during the opening session of the second US-Qatari Strategic Dialogue in Doha, Pompeo said the US and Qatar work together to settle many regional issues, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

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