Diplomacy |

Pompeo in Riyadh for talks focused on Iran

By AFP

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at the King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 19th. [Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/POOL/AFP]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Riyadh Wednesday (February 19th) for talks with Saudi leaders focused on countering Tehran, his first visit since a top Iranian general's killing sent regional tensions soaring.

The top US diplomat will hold talks with King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well as Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, State Department officials said.

"We will spend a lot of time talking about the security issues with the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular," Pompeo said before heading to Riyadh.

Pompeo said the US was "prepared to talk anytime" to Iran but emphasised that the Iranian regime has "got to fundamentally change their behaviour".

"The pressure campaign continues. It is not just an economic pressure campaign, it is diplomatic pressures, isolation through diplomacy as well," he said.

Pompeo's three-day visit to Saudi Arabia comes in the wake of a US airstrike that killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qassem Soleimani as he visited Baghdad on January 3rd.

Regional tensions rose following the killing and Iran responded with missile strikes on US forces in Iraq.

After Riyadh, Pompeo will fly to Oman to meet the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, on Friday.

Pompeo will offer condolences over the death of his predecessor Qaboos, who was the Arab world's longest-serving leader and served as a go-between for Iran and the US.

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