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Pompeo in Saudi Arabia talks hard against Iran, Gulf dispute



RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo uses the Middle East on his first overseas trip as America's top diplomat to demand a concerted international action to punish Iran's missile programs. He also calls on Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to settle a long-smoldering dispute with Qatar, which US officials say will increase Iran's influence in the region, including in Yemen and Syria.

Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman on Sunday, whose country, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, is in line with Qatar, which has hindered Arab unity in the Gulf States and frustrated the United States as it seeks to defeat Qatar increasing Iranian assertiveness. The ex-CIA chief arrived in Riyadh a day earlier, shortly after Iranian Houthi rebels fired firing rockets at Yemen's southern Jizan city in southern Saudi Arabia, killing one person. 19659009] Older US officials traveling with Pompeo blamed Iran for smuggling the missiles into Yemen. They said the incident highlighted the importance of the Trump administration's crackdown on Iranian supportive aggression in the region. Iran supports the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and supports the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in fighting rebels.

The officials, unauthorized to anticipate Pompeo's talks with the Saudi leadership and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Iran's long- and medium-range missile programs had to be part of efforts to strengthen Iran's nuclear deal, by President Donald Trump Threatened to retreat in mid-May.

The officials said Pompeo will call on other nations to impose harsher sanctions on Iranian people, companies and government agencies involved in rocket development. They said he also stressed the US commitment to defending Saudi Arabia, Israel and other friends and partners in the region. Pompeo will also urge the Saudis to contribute more to the stabilization efforts on the territory of Syria, which has recently been freed by the Islamic State group, officials said.

As part of the anti-Iranian coup, officials said Pompeo will make it clear to the president that Saudi's quarrel with Qatar must end. The crisis broke out last summer when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates blocked the country and accused it of supporting terrorism. The mediation efforts led by Kuwait and backed by the US, including former Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson, whom Trump fired last month, have proved unsuccessful. The split gives Iran "room to maneuver" and hampers cooperation on a wide range of other issues, including the Islamic State's crackdown on violent extremism and other groups, officials said.

Pompeo meeting in Saudi Arabia to follow The discussions in Israel and Jordan are just weeks ahead of key figures that have the potential to further curb the volatile region.

Trump has set a deadline of 12 May to decide whether to opt out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite strong pressure to refrain from European and other parties.

Two days later, the US is planning to open its new embassy in Jerusalem. This will mean a significant shift in US policies towards Israel and the Palestinians in recent decades, which also claim the holy city as their capital.

The embassy movement is deeply opposed by the Palestinians who commit the anniversary of May 15, marking the "Nabka" catastrophe when they fled the 1948 Palestinian war or were driven out of their homes. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the recent violent protests on the border between Israel and Gaza.

On Friday at a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, the first stop of his trip, Pompeo reiterated Trump's promise to withdraw from Iran's deal, unless it's clearly strengthened. He said the US would be "unlikely" if that was not done.

"Without an essential solution, without overcoming the shortcomings, the mistakes of the agreement, he probably will not stay in this business after this May." Pompeo said

Uncertainty about Trump's Syria policy, ranging between a swift withdrawal of It is also imminent to Beirut

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