New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called for unity among the Gulf countries, in an apparent attempt to resolve the ongoing conflict between four Arab states and Qatar.
“Gulf unity is necessary and we need to achieve it,” Pompeo said in a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh.
Last summer, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain collectively severed ties with Qatar, creating one of the biggest crises in inter-Arab relations in recent history.
The four accuse Doha of supporting terrorism, a claim vehemently denied by Qatar.
The four states have unveiled a set of condition that Doha has to abide by in order to lift the sanctions, a move seen by Qatar as violating its national sovereignty.
Iran and nuclear deal
Pompeo opened fire on Iran, accusing Tehran of supporting terrorism.
“Iran destabilizes this entire region. It supports proxy militias and terrorist groups,” said the top U.S. diplomat, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday as part of a regional tour that will also take him to Israel.
“It is an arms dealer to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Iran conducts cyber-hacking campaigns. And it supports the murderous Assad regime,” he said.
“Unlike the prior administration we will not neglect the vast scope of Iran’s terrorism.”
Pompeo said Washington will continue to work with European allies to fix a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“But if the deal cannot be fixed, the president has said he will leave that deal,” he said.
Under the deal, the U.S. and other world powers agreed to lift some of the economic sanctions imposed against Iran in return for the latter agreeing to rein in its nuclear program.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iran that it should not attempt to re-start its nuclear program, as he threatened to potentially torpedo the 2015 agreement.
Al-Jubeir, for his part, reiterated his country’s support for U.S. policies against Tehran, an arch foe of Saudi Arabia.
“We support the policy of the U.S. President towards Iran and support efforts aimed to fix the nuclear agreement,” he said.
The top Saudi diplomat described his talks with Pompeo as “constructive and fruitful”, saying the discussions tackled Iran’s interference and regional developments.
He went on to call for imposing further sanctions on Iran for violating UN resolutions on “ballistic missiles, supporting terrorism and interfering in affairs of the region’s countries”.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing arms and ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels, who overran much of Yemen in 2014, including the capital Sanaa.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as an Iranian proxy — launched a massive military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.