US ties with Saudi Arabia essential for ME stability: Pompeo

Mike Pompeo

ABU DHABI — The United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia is essential to the Middle East’s stability and security, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.

“This mutually beneficial relationship with Saudi Arabia to create stability in the Mideast and to assist the US in executing things to keep the American people safe is very important,” Pompeo told Al-Arabiya. “I’m convinced the Kingdom will be a great ally in doing so.”

“America wants an Arab coalition and force that is capable of facing the different challenges in the region,” he said, adding, “US will not leave the Middle East, and destroying Daesh is a priority.”

Pompeo and his wife, Susan, arrived on Friday night in the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi. Pompeo was greeted at Abu Dhabi International Airport by the UAE’s Minister of State Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh and US Charge d’Affaires Steven Bondy.

The diplomat flew in to Abu Dhabi from Manama and has already visited, Amman, Cairo, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, as part of his ongoing tour in the Middle East which Washington believes is “critical” to confronting Iran and extremist groups.

Pompeo will also visit the other four members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo said on Saturday that he was optimistic that a “good outcome” could be reached between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish groups, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister.

“We recognize the Turkish people’s right to defend their country from terrorists, but we also know that those ... who are not terrorists and fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected,” Pompeo told reporters.

“There are many details to be worked out but I am optimistic we can achieve a good outcome,” he said.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi as part of a regional tour, Pompeo also said the withdrawal of US troops from Syria is a “tactical change” and does not alter US military capacity to counter Daesh and Iran.

He also described Venezuela’s government under President Nicolas Maduro as illegitimate on Saturday and said the United States would work with like-minded countries in Latin America to restore democracy there.

“The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country,” Pompeo told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

“We are very hopeful we can be a force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.” — Agencies