Saudi leaders discuss Yemen situation with Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen of failing to comply with a ceasefire agreement reached at UN-sponsored talks in December.
Tuesday 15/01/2019
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Royal Court in Riyadh, January 14. (AP)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Royal Court in Riyadh, January 14. (AP)

LONDON - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a regional tour to reassure the United States’ Middle East allies of its commitment to the region, said a comprehensive political solution is the only way to end the conflict in Yemen.

Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh, with the war in Yemen factoring heavily in the January 14 talks.

A posting on Pompeo’s Twitter account stated that his meetings with Crown Prince Mohammed focused on the US-Saudi relationship, accountability for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen peace talks.”

The US State Department said Pompeo stressed the need for continued regional efforts for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis and to stand against the “Iranian regime’s malign activity and to advance peace, prosperity and security.”

Pompeo accused the Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen of failing to comply with a ceasefire agreement reached at UN-sponsored talks in December.

“The work that was done in Sweden on Yemen was good but both sides (need) to honour those commitments,” Pompeo said. “Today, the Iran-backed Houthis have chosen not to do that.”

Concerning the death of Khashoggi, both Pompeo and Crown Prince Mohammed stressed that “accountability needed to take place.”

Pompeo said he and the Saudi crown prince talked about “both the investigative process and the judicial process that is taking place” in Saudi Arabia regarding the death of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was killed October 2 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

“They reiterated their commitment to achieve the objective, the expectations we set for them,” Pompeo said, adding that the Saudis were committed to a timely and lawful judicial process.

Pompeo also met with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman bn Abdulaziz.

Pompeo on January 12 was in the United Arab Emirates where he met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Later in Qatar, Pompeo urged that the rift between Doha and its Gulf Arab neighbours be resolved, stressing that it was threatening regional unity needed to counter Iran.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and their regional foe Iran, which Doha denies.

“When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful,” Pompeo said January 13 at a news conference in Doha. “They never permit you to have as robust a response to common adversaries or common challenges as you might.”

Pompeo, whose earlier stops included Amman, Cairo and Baghdad, was cutting the Middle East trip — which would have included nine countries — short to attend a family funeral, a State Department spokesman said.

He was expected to return to the United States after meetings in Oman instead of travelling to Kuwait as his original itinerary indicated.