Pompeo to seek Khashoggi update in Riyadh


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Sheraton Grand in the Qatari capital, DohaImage copyright

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a multi-stop tour of the Middle East

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he will ask Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to hold the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi “accountable”, ahead of a likely meeting between the two men.

Mr Pompeo is on a tour of the Middle East, and has already visited Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain.

The trip to Riyadh comes just three months after Khashoggi’s murder.

A critic of Saudi’s rulers, he died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Riyadh has admitted he was murdered there, but denied suggestions that the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was involved. It had initially maintained that the writer left the consulate unharmed.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring accountability,” Mr Pompeo said at a news conference in Qatar on Sunday.

US media report that Mr Pompeo is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria during his time in Riyadh, as well as seeking an update on the Khashoggi investigation.

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America’s most senior diplomat also called for more unity between Arab states, urging an end to the 18-month economic boycott of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – all US allies – cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing the oil-rich state of supporting the region’s terrorist groups and Iran – Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.

Qatar denies that, and has accused its neighbours of seeking regime change.

“President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has dragged on too long, and the dispute benefits adversaries and harms our mutual interests,” Mr Pompeo said.

“We are all more powerful when we are working together,” he added.

The message echoed comments he made in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday, when he said it was “time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region”.

Mr Pompeo’s trip is intended to reassure America’s Middle East allies of its commitment to the region.

On 15 January the US secretary of state will visit Kuwait, where he is expected to sign an agreement to “boost the strategic dialogue between the two countries”, according to Kuwait’s state news agency.

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