Pompeo prioritises ‘Iran threats’ in meeting with Saudi FM Al Jubeir

Meeting came ahead of a major Iran speech from the US secretary of state which he will deliver next week

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards his plane at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Belgium on July 12, 2018, to travel to Washington, Dc.  Pompeo was on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels. - 
 / AFP / POOL / Andrew Harnik
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US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Thursday made Iran his primary issue both in tweets criticising Tehran and in meetings he held in Brussels with Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir , Iraqi PM Haider Al Abadi, and members of the anti-ISIS coalition.

Mr Pompeo's meetings were on the margins of the NATO Summit in Brussels and were primarily with Middle East and European counterparts.  In his meeting with Mr Jubeir, the US chief diplomat committed to “further deepening US-Saudi cooperation” and paid special emphasis to “address the full array of threats posed by Iran.”

In that context, and according to the US read-out of the meeting Mr Pompeo conveyed to Mr Jubeir president Donald Trump’s “desire to see the Gulf dispute [Qatar crisis] eased and eventually resolved.”

That goal of having “our Gulf partners … work together to promote regional security and stability, and stand against Iran’s destabilising activities.”

Four regional countries including Saudi Arabia have been boycotting Qatar since June of 2017 over accusations of supporting radical organisations, meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and breaching the Riyadh agreement of 2013. Despite a request from the Quartet countries to Doha to downgrade its ties with Tehran, Qatar has moved closer to Iran in the last year, with increased business and diplomatic exchanges between the two.

Washington has been pushing in the last few months for a compromise to end the dispute in hopes of hosting the Gulf states at a Camp David summit this September. These efforts have stalled, however, given the growing differences between the parties.

On Yemen, Mr Pompeo and Mr Jubeir “agreed on the importance of all sides supporting the UN-led political process, facilitating critical humanitarian and commercial access, and working toward a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict.”

Iran was also on the agenda of Mr Pompeo’s meetings with EU high representative for foreign and security policy Federica Mogherini and with the anti-ISIS coalition.

Addressing the Europeans especially in the light of the latest attack plot by Iran that was foiled in Paris, Mr Pompeo tweeted:

“We ask our allies & partners to join our economic pressure campaign against #Iran’s regime. We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism & proxy wars. There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence & instability in one of our countries next.”

He accused Iran of sending “weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions... It’s our responsibility to stop it.”

On Syria, Mr Pompeo said that the US along with the UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan is reaffirming “support for the Syrian political process and our goals of removing Iran’s influence, defeating #ISIS, deterring chemical weapons use.”

In his meeting with Mr Abadi, he praised Baghdad’s counterterrorism efforts. He also commended “the robust cooperation occurring between the International Coalition and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the Peshmerga, in the continued battle against ISIS...and the military operations underway to protect Iraq’s borders and sovereignty.”

Following the contested elections in Iraq last May, Mr Pompeo noted “recent efforts to ensure the integrity of the parliamentary elections and encouraged the Prime Minister and all of Iraq’s leaders to work expeditiously towards a centrist government that expresses the will of all Iraqi people.”

The secretary of state will deliver remarks on Iran next Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The speech called “Supporting Iranian Voices” will be delivered after meeting members of the Iranian-American community in the United States. This would be Mr Pompeo’s second major speech on Iran since taking office in April.