World News

Saudis committed to holding Khashoggi killers accountable: Pompeo

Saudis committed to holding Khashoggi killers accountable: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said that he would ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the murderers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held "accountable".

Pompeo said that while talking to Bin Salman and his father, King Salman, he made it clear that the USA expects "every single person" responsible to face justice.

The top USA diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, embarked on his second politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi's October 2 murder inside its Istanbul consulate sparked an global outcry.

Pompeo later told reporters that he had also raised the rift with officials in Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

Khashoggi, a contributor to Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, was murdered by a team of 15 Saudi hitmen on 2 October, shortly after entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. "The expectations that we've set for them are very clear - we've spoken about this a great deal".

Arriving in Riyadh, Pompeo was greeted at the airport by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and U.S. Charge D'Affaires Christopher Henzel.

Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the latest stop of his Middle East tour that has so far been dominated by questions and concerns about the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

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

Pompeo also said that President Donald Trump's threat to devastate North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey's economy if it attacks US -backed Kurdish fighters in Syria underscored America's commitment to its Kurd partners. "I think the president's comments this morning are consistent with that".

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In Riyadh, he also tried to impress upon leaders the importance of a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, the Arab world's most impoverished country, and the need to step up efforts to counter Iran's increasing assertiveness in the region, manifested by its support for Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement, Syria's government of President Bashar Assad, Shiite militias in Iraq and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia said both sides had agreed on the need for a redoubled effort for peace in Yemen.

Hathloul's sister, Loujain, is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May - just before the historic lifting of Saudi Arabia's decades-long ban on women drivers.

Rights groups have called on Pompeo to also press Prince Mohammed over the jailing of women activists in the kingdom, amid claims that some of them faced sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

Pompeo said Saudi Arabia was "still working through their fact-finding process" in the case, and that the U.S.is doing the same. But they have exonerated Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Qatar.

"It diminishes our ability to all work together", he said of the spat that began in June 2017 with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates boycotting of Qatar, alleging it funds extremist groups and has too-cozy ties to Iran.

Pompeo said he signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar regarding the expansion and renovation of al-Udeid Air Base, which hosts the forward headquarters of the US military's Central Command and some 10,000 American troops.


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