Pompeo In Riyadh For Talks Expected To Focus On Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Arabia’s leadership on February 20 for talks expected to focus on Iran — a bitter rival to both the United States and Saudi Arabia.

State Department officials said that Pompeo, who arrived in Riyadh on February 19, is to meet with King Salman and his son, the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, along with Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan.

“We’ll spend a lot of time talking about the security issues with the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, prior to traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been a strong ally of Washington in its disputes with Iran. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia competes for influence in the Middle East with Shi’ite-led Iran.

Washington and Tehran have been at loggerheads and have come close to open warfare since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord and began reimposing financial sanctions on Iran.

The top U.S. diplomat said Washington was “prepared to talk anytime” to Tehran but stressed that the Iranians must “fundamentally change their behavior.”

Many U.S. lawmakers of both parties have urged Pompeo to press Riyadh on several controversial matters.

Saudi Arabia has come in for intense criticism in the West over its devastating five-year war in Yemen, the detention of women’s rights activists, and the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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