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US State Secretary Pompeo tells Saudi bloc to end Qatar blockade

Pompeo has some tough words for the Saudi leadership [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 April, 2018

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, telling Riyadh to end the blockade on Qatar and reign in its offensive on Yemen.

Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh on Saturday for his first overseas visit as the US' new secretary of state, with some tough words to the Saudi leadership on its blockade of Qatar and the ongoing war in Yemen.

Pompeo reportedly told Riyadh that "enough is enough" regarding the Saudi-led blockade on Qatar, according to The New York Times.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt's blockade on Qatar began in June, following combined accusations that Doha "supports terrorism" and is too close to Iran, charges that the Gulf state vehemently denies.

After US President Donald Trump briefly supported the blockade, previous Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored his boss and worked hard to end the blockade on Washington's Gulf ally.

Pompeo appears set to continue this policy with strong words to Saudi's leadership on ending the crisis, a state department source told reporters.

As Pompeo is a close ally of Trump, the state secretary's words to the Saudi leadership appear to be a direct request from the White House.

Pompeo has also been sent to reign in the Saudis' bloody intervention in Yemen, the The New York Times added.

The Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign on Yemen in March 2015, which has killed thousands of civilians.

Pompeo will tell King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman among others that poor targeting by Saudi pilots in Yemen has done much to worsen the humanitarian situation.

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Meanwhile a devastating siege on Yemen's ports has only been partially lifted with crippling effects on the country.

Pompeo wants Saudi Arabia to allow in food, medicine and fuel, to prevent the world's worst humanitarian crisis from deepening.

He will, however, back Saudi claims that Iran has smuggled rockets into Yemen.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia shot down four rockets fired from Houthi militants in Yemen. 

The rebel group's ballistics' campaign has intensified in recent months, including rockets fired at the Saudi capital, which Riyadh insists could only be carried out with Iranian assistance.

Washington will push for tougher sanctions on Iran over its ballistics' programme, something which is of huge concern not only for Saudi Arabia but also US ally Israel.

On May 12, Trump will decide whether to extend sanctions relief on Iran. He has called for tougher sanctions on Tehran over its missiles' programme, something European allies appear to back in order to save a nuclear deal with Iran.

But Iran has rejected any changes to the status quo bringing into question whether the current nuclear deal can survive.



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