Pompeo to cut short Middle East tour to attend funeral

Pompeo to cut short Middle East tour to attend funeral

It's enough to make French President Emmanuel Macron cry: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is inviting world leaders to participate in the Valentine Day event he wanted so badly to host: a conference on Middle East peace.

"We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi", Pompeo told reporters ahead of his arrival.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused Yemen's rebels of failing to comply with a ceasefire agreement for the flashpoint city of Hodeida reached at UN-sponsored talks in Sweden.

The killing has sparked the kingdom's worst political crisis in a generation, strained ties with Western allies including the US and focused attention on Prince Mohammed's domestic crackdown on dissent and the war in Yemen.

According to NBC News, Pompeo met with the Saudi royals separately, spending 35 minutes with the king and 45 with the crown prince, who is the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia on most policy issues.

Saudi now has 11 men on trial for killing Khashoggi - who was strangled then dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul - including five of whom are facing the death penalty.

Saudi authorities deny the torture charges, and Prince Mohammed has said they have recordings showing the activists were working with foreign intelligence agencies. Members of Prince Mohammed's entourage have been implicated in the killing and US lawmakers have demanded America pull back its support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people, and are seeking the death penalty against five of them.

SHAPIRO: What can you tell us about the discussions that Pompeo and the prince had about the Khashoggi killing? In this case you have Iranian-backed Houthis, Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq, Iranian-backed forces in Syria, and in each case the root of the challenge stems from the revolutionary nature of the Islamic regime and their efforts overseas.

He added, "That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region".

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Loujain Al-Hathloul was detained previous year in Saudi Arabia.

He is pushing for an Arab military alliance to counter threats from Tehran.

"A comprehensive political solution is only way to the end the conflict", the Embassy said.

Qatar - also a U.S. ally - denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

He added that "President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long".

In Doha on Sunday, Pompeo made similar remarks, but he said that while the United States could try to play peacemaker, it is ultimately up to the countries involved to resolve the situation.

Earlier this month, Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former commander of U.S. Central Command who retired from the Marine Corps in 2000, resigned as special American envoy to resolve the dispute.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Speaking during the opening session of the second US-Qatari Strategic Dialogue in Doha, Pompeo said the US and Qatar work together to settle many regional issues, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

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