Mike Pompeo encourages Saudis to recognise Israel in latest Middle East security push
- Bahrain, which tightly coordinates its foreign policy with Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates on September 15 signed the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel
- US President Donald Trump has highlighted Arab normalisation with Israel as a major achievement as he seeks another term in November 3 election
Meeting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Pompeo said the agreement “contributed greatly to our shared goals for regional peace and security”.
“They reflect a changing dynamic in the region, one in which countries rightly recognise the need for regional cooperation to counter Iranian influence and generate prosperity,” Pompeo said.
“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalising its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far.”
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US President Donald Trump has highlighted Arab normalisation with Israel as a major achievement as he seeks another term in November 3 elections, with his evangelical Christian base widely supportive of the Jewish state.
Trump said last month that he also expected Saudi Arabia to recognise Israel “at the right time”.
Gulf Arab kingdoms have found common cause with Trump in his hawkish line against regional rival Iran.
Pompeo said the US “supports a robust programme of arms sales to Saudi Arabia”, saying the effort helps “protect its citizens and sustains American jobs”.
In a controversial move that triggered an internal probe, Pompeo last year cited a crisis with Iran to bypass Congress to push ahead US$8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
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Lawmakers across party lines have been appalled by the heavy toll on civilians, including destruction of schools and hospitals, in Saudi Arabia’s campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Pompeo also announced that the United States had acquired a 26-acre site to build a new US embassy in Riyadh.
Alongside work on US missions in Jeddah and Dhahran, the United States is spending more than US$1 billion on diplomatic construction in the kingdom, Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, Long-time foes Lebanon and Israel launched talks on Wednesday over their disputed sea border in a brief meeting which the lead Lebanese negotiator described as “the first step on a thousand-mile journey”.
The talks were mediated by the US. Both Lebanon and Israel had played down expectations for Wednesday’s meeting which was held outdoors under blue canvas covers near the two countries’ land border.
Additional reporting by Reuters