RIYADH (Reuters) – New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscored the need for unity in the Gulf during a brief visit to the Saudi capital on Sunday as Washington aims to muster support among allies for new sanctions against Iran.
Pompeo reassured Saudi Arabia that the United States would abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, reached under President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, unless there is an agreement with European partners to improve it to ensure the Islamic Republic never possesses a nuclear weapson.
“Iran destabilises this entire region,” Pompeo said in a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. “It supports proxy militias and terrorist groups. It is an arms dealer to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It supports the murderous Assad regime (in Syria) as well.”
Pompeo also addressed the rift between some Gulf countries and Qatar: “Gulf unity is necessary and we need to achieve it.”
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut off travel and trade ties with Qatar last June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and arch-rival Iran on the other side of the Gulf.
Doha has denied the accusations and has said its three fellow Gulf countries aim to curtail its sovereignty. For its part, Iran denies supporting terrorism.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton with additional reporting by and Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Mark Heinrich