Pompeo: Saudi Arabia must hold Jamal Khashoggi's killers accountable

Pompeo: Saudi Arabia must hold Jamal Khashoggi's killers accountable

Mr Pompeo is later expected to head to Riyadh, where all eyes will be on a possible meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The visit comes just three months after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country's Istanbul consulate.

However, President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

His support has come despite the US Central Intelligence Agency's reported conclusion that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the murder.

Pompeo's visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will be hosted by Prince Mohammed, is part of an extensive eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered on October 2 in what Saudi Arabia called a "rogue" operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and subsequently straining ties between Riyadh and Washington.

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. Members of Prince Mohammed's entourage have been implicated in the killing and USA lawmakers have demanded America pull back its support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

A photo posted to Twitter by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walking with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on January 14, 2018, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"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.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a united Gulf region is essential for building a planned security and economic alliance of Middle Eastern states as he arrived in Qatar.

"We will continue to work to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi are accountable", Pompeo said Friday on the U.S. channel Fox News.

"So, 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".

But Qatar is an ally of Saudi arch-rival Iran and it remains unclear how willing Doha will be to side with Washington on its increasingly anti-Iran position.

The US, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Later, speaking to a U.S. Embassy staff member in Qatar who said her job was moving to the UAE due to the boycott's effects, Pompeo was even more frank.

On the detained women rights activists, Pompeo said the Saudis had committed that the "lawful judicial process would take place and they would do so quickly and that they would continue down that path".

"(It's) not at all clear that the rift is any closer to being resolved today than it was yesterday", he said.

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