Pompeo in Bahrain on first leg of tour of Gulf allies

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Bahrain on Friday (January 11th), the first leg of a tour of Gulf monarchies which Washington says are "critical" to confronting Iran and extremists, AFP reported.

"These Gulf partnerships are critical to achieving shared regional objectives -- defeating the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS), countering radical Islamic terrorism, protecting global energy supplies and rolling back Iranian aggression," a State Department spokesman said.

In Bahrain, Pompeo is slated to meet with King Hamad, Crown Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.

Bahrain, a key US ally in the Gulf, hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

"Bahrain is a staunch supporter of countering Iran's malign efforts" in the region, the US spokesman said. "Bahrain continues efforts to investigate and counter Iranian sanctions evasion and combat illicit maritime activity."

The US top diplomat has already visited Cairo, Amman, Baghdad and Erbil. He will later visit the other five members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) -- the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The State Department has said that a "united GCC is the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security and stability" and key to countering Iran.

It said Pompeo would also work with regional leaders to advance a proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance -- a NATO-style security pact.

During his talks, Pompeo is also expected to discuss the conflict in Yemen.

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