By Arab News
The US Secretary of State landed in Riyadh on Wednesday for talks with Saudi Arabia’s leaders focused on countering Iran.
Mike Pompeo’s visit is his first to the Kingdom since the US killed Iran’s powerful military commander Qassem Soleimani.
He will hold talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well as Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, State Department officials said.
“We’ll spend a lot of time talking about the security issues with the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular,” Pompeo told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa before heading to Riyadh.
Pompeo said the United States was “prepared to talk anytime” to Iran but emphasised that the Iranian regime has “got to fundamentally change their behavior”.
“The pressure campaign continues. It’s not just an economic pressure campaign, its diplomatic pressures, isolation through diplomacy as well,” he said.
US President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear accord with Iran and imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at reducing Tehran’s regional clout.
Pompeo’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia comes after an increase in regional tensions following the drone strike last month in Baghdad that killed Soleimani.
Iran responded with missile strikes on US forces in Iraq.
Speaking in Riyadh, Pompeo said that the US will not tolerate Iran’s attacks on American troops in Iraqi bases.
Earlier, he warned that the US would respond to Iranian attacks on its troops in Iraq.
“We are mindful that it cannot become ordinary course that the Iranians through their proxy forces in Iraq are putting the lives of Americans at risk,” he said.
He added that there “has to be accountability connected to those very serious attacks.”
Iran has also been blamed for a drone and missile strike on two Saudi Aramco facilities in September that temporarily shut down more than 5 percent of global oil supply.
Pompeo also said he would discuss a broad range of issues including the economic relationship between the two countries during his visit to the Kingdom.
Last week, Saudi Arabia and the US celebrated the 75th anniversary of the USS Quincy meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz.
Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz met on board the USS Quincy in 1945 and the first encounter between a US president and a Saudi King laid the foundation for the broad strategic partnership shared by the two countries today.
After Riyadh, Pompeo will fly to Oman to meet the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, on Friday.
Pompeo will offer condolences over the death of his predecessor Sultan Qaboos, who was the Arab world’s longest-serving leader and served as a go-between for Iran and the United States.