Pompeo urges Gulf states to end Qatar boycott

Source AP

Later, Pompeo traveled to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he pushed Saudi authorities to continue to investigate the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the US -based Washington Post columnist from Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo stressed the importance of ending fighting in Yemen and keeping up pressure Iran.

"We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring accountability", Pompeo said in Doha after talks with Qatari government officials.

His support has come despite the US Central Intelligence Agency's reported conclusion that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the murder.

Washington's call for regional unity is clouded by its relations with Saudi Arabia since the murder of Khashoggi in early October.

Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani also said his country's relationship with America "has enabled us to confront so many regional and global challenges". A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing. But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors.

"The departure of Mr. Zinni in no way reflects any change in America's Middle East efforts, our strategy or our ongoing commitment to the region", Pompeo said.

During Pompeo's previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, his broad smiles with the crown prince had outraged some Americans.

"I am struck by what is not included in Pompeo's itinerary: the fearless women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom's prisons for seeking rights and dignity", Alia al-Hathloul wrote in The New York Times Sunday.

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"I want to talk to you about a couple of places we've been".

Pompeo met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani Sunday during his visit to Doha, where he refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who signed the MOU with Qatar as part of his Mideast tour, al-Udeid is home to 13,000 US coalition personnel engaged in the fight against Daesh* in Syria and Iraq.

Washington has also welcomed "Qatar's generous offer to expand critical facilities at bases used by U.S. forces in the country and to align operating procedures at these bases with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation standards, thereby increasing the operational capability of United States and coalition forces based in Qatar".

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all USA allies, began a boycott of Qatar over a political dispute in June 2017 that continues today.

"When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful", Pompeo, who is on a tour of the Middle East, told a news conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of United States envoy Anthony Zinni.

America has proposed a nine-country alliance that includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt and Jordan for security, economic and political cooperation.

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