July 23, 2019
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Pompeo meets Saudi king amid rising US-Iran tensions in Persian Gulf

 Saudi King Salman (R) receives US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2019. EPA-EFE HANDOUT/BANDAR AL-GALOUD/ SAUDI ROYAL PALACE

Saudi King Salman (R) receives US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2019. EPA-EFE HANDOUT/BANDAR AL-GALOUD/ SAUDI ROYAL PALACE

Riyadh, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz in the western port city of Jeddah to address bilateral ties and the recent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran in the Persian Gulf region.

Pompeo and the Saudi king discussed strategic relations and the latest regional and international developments during their meeting at al-Salam royal palace, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

The visit came as tensions are flaring up between Washington and Tehran, after Iran downed a US military drone last week. In response, the US has vowed to impose fresh sanctions against Iran.

Before departing, Pompeo said that the talks would be about “how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition” against Iran, which he called "the world's largest state sponsor of terror."

Pompeo is scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before heading to the United Arab Emirates to hold talks with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The US has sent additional troops, ships and missiles to the Persian Gulf.

It has also accused Iran of a series of alleged sabotage attacks against oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, most recently on June 13 when the Japanese-operated Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian-owned Front Altair were hit by explosives.

Iran has denied any involvement in the incidents and has instead accused the US of trying to destabilize the region.

The US is allied to Saudi Arabia and Israel in the region, two of the Iranian regimes foes.

Saudi Arabia is also leading a military coalition against the Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, which Riyadh says are backed by Iran.

The recent fallout between the US and Iran came after President Donald Trump came true on a campaign promise and scrapped his country's involvement in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that saw Tehran swap in much of its nuclear program for the alleviation of international sanctions.

Trump ramped up sanctions on Iran, targeting the Islamic Republic's oil and banking sectors.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has also scaled back his commitment to the deal, urging European signatories to offset damage from US sanctions.

Pompeo next is to travel to India, Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea, a trip that is to come to an end on June 30. EFE

sr-sa-jlp/sm/jt

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