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On Mideast Tour, Pompeo Hopes For Normalized Israel-Arab Ties

By RFE/RL August 24, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has started a five-day Middle East tour, saying he hopes to see other Arab states following the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and normalizing relations with Israel.

Speaking in Jerusalem on August 24 following talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo said it would "not only increase Middle East stability, but it will improve the lives for the people of their own countries as well."

Israel and the U.A.E. announced on August 13 they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that included an Israeli pledge to suspend its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

The deal makes the U.A.E. the first Gulf Arab state to establish full diplomatic ties and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic relations with Israel.

The move was hailed by several Gulf states but slammed by Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians.

After Israel, Pompeo is due to visit the U.A.E., Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, according to unidentified diplomats.

Besides the agreement between Israel and the U.A.E., Pompeo's agenda will include security challenges posed by Iran and China in the region, said sources quoted by Reuters.

Pompeo's agenda also will include security challenges posed by Iran and China in the region, said sources quoted by Reuters.

In Qatar, Pompeo plans to meet with members of the Talban to discuss peace talks between the militant group and the Afghan government that are key to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, plans a separate trip to the Middle East, the AP said, quoting diplomats. Kushner plans to leave later in the week for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

The trips come after the United States formally launched the process of activating the Iran nuclear deal's "snapback" mechanism aimed at reimposing UN sanctions on Iran, citing Iranian violations of the deal.

Pompeo on August 20 submitted a letter to the president of the UN Security Council notifying him of Iran's "significant" noncompliance with the terms of the landmark accord. The move followed the failure of a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for an extension to an arms embargo on Iran in the Security Council.

The United States and its European allies have sparred over the U.S. approach. Some members of the Security Council have questioned the U.S. right to trigger the snapback since Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal more than two years ago and reimposed unilateral sanctions.

In Jerusalem, both Pompeo and Netanyahu criticized the lack of international support for the U.S. push for the restoration of UN sanctions.

"We are determined to use every tool that we have to ensure [Iran] can't get access to high-end weapon systems," the U.S. secretary of state said. "The rest of the world should join us."

With reporting by AP, BBC, and Reuters


Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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