Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pompeo Meets with Saudi Crown Prince

Pompeo Meets with Saudi Crown Prince

Pompeo was meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince on Monday, the latest stop of a Middle East tour that has so far been dominated by questions and concerns about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

Pompeo's visit came as human rights groups have been calling on Saudi Arabia to provide independent global monitors access to detained female prisoners amid mounting reports of torture and sexual harassment in Saudi prisons.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for 45 minutes.

"We'll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable certainly by the Saudis, but by the United States as well, where appropriate", he added.

Mr Pompeo has already made stops in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Baghdad, Amman and Cairo.

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside worldwide outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered at the consulate. He released a statement saying, "Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

In protest over the president's handling of the matter, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan resolution that put the blame for the killing of Khashoggi squarely on the Saudi crown prince. At least 21 Saudis have been detained in the case, with five facing the death penalty. But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors.

Khashoggi's murder has cast a renewed spotlight on the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, gripped by what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, but it was not clear whether the subject would be discussed during Monday's meeting.

"You have Iranian-backed Houthis, Iranian-backed Hezbolah, Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq, Iranian-backed forces in Syria", Pompeo said.

Shooter of Davis police officer identified
She had just completed six months of field training when she was ambushed while checking driver's licenses during a routine call . The shooting devastated the Davis Police Department, which has about 60 sworn officers and about 30 other employees.

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.

"I am struck by what is not included in Pompeo's itinerary: the courageous 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.

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

Pompeo also urged the Saudis to end the kingdom's near'y two-year-old dispute with its Gulf neighbor Qatar, which has hurt U.S. efforts to create a united Arab military alliance to counter Iran.

They also agreed that a comprehensive political solution is the only way to end the conflict.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began a boycott of Qatar in June 2017, alleging Qatar funds extremist groups and has too-cozy ties to Iran.

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

"We're all more powerful when we're working together", Pompeo said at a news conference.

"When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful".

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