Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates while hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton visits Israel for talks on the crisis sparked by Iran’s downing of an American drone.
‘We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition’ on Iran, Pompeo said.
Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone on Thursday, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz – a claim the United States denies.
President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been ‘proportionate,’ with Tehran warning any attack would see Washington’s interests across the Middle East go up in flames.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (above) speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding a plane to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Pompeo said he would stop in the two countries on his way to India, where he begins a visit on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters as he left Washington, Pompeo called Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates ‘great allies in the challenge that Iran presents.’
Pompeo denounced a map that was released by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that purported to show a spy drone encroaching its airspace in late May and urged media not to find it credible.
‘You’ve seen that child-like map that Foreign Minister Zarif put out that contrasts with the excellence and professionalism of America’s military and intelligence services,’ Pompeo said.
Pompeo said that Iran’s map ‘should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about where that unarmed vehicle was – it was flying in international airspace.’
‘We shouldn’t let the Iranians have one moment where any reporter would write that there is even a credible response to the data set that the Americans have put forward,’ he said, accusing Iran of ‘sowing disinformation in lots of lots of places.’
While Pompeo heads to the Gulf, National Security Adviser John Bolton (right) was in Israel meeting with the Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu (left). The two men are seen above in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday
Bolton said ‘U.S. prudence and discretion’ should not be mistaken by Iran and other Middle Eastern countries for weakness
But Pompeo reiterated Trump’s offer of dialogue to improve relations with Iran, which the US administration has sought to isolate through harsh sanctions.
‘We’re prepared to negotiate with no preconditions. They know precisely how to find us,’ Pompeo said.
‘And I am confident that at the very moment they’re ready to truly engage with us, we will able to begin this conversation,’ he said.
‘I’m looking forward to the day,’ he added.
Bolton met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Iran-related developments as well as a renewed peace effort.
‘Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,’ Bolton said during a joint press conference with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel on Sunday.
‘No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East,’ he said of Iran.
Bolton has repeatedly called for regime change in Tehran.
President Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview aired Sunday morning that he didn’t approve the retaliatory attack against Iran after they shot down an unmanned drone this week because it was not a corresponding response.
Netanyahu said Sunday he is ready to ‘consider’ a U.S. plan to resolve his country’s long-running conflict with the Palestinians.
President Trump on Thursday called back a planned strike on Iran after the Islamic Republic downed an American drone near the Strait of Hormuz. Trump is seen at the White House on Sunday
‘We will consider the American proposal in a fair and open way,’ he said as he hosted Bolton.
The Palestinian leadership has already rejected the plan, citing U.S. ‘bias’ after the White House recognized bitterly divided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
‘I don’t understand how the Palestinians rejected the plan even before knowing what it contained,’ said Netanyahu.
‘That’s not how you move forward.’
He was talking during a visit to the Jordan Valley, Israeli-occupied territory he has pledged never to give up in a peace deal.
‘To those who say that to obtain peace, Israel must leave the Jordan Valley, I say: it will not bring peace – it will bring war and terror,’ he said.
‘Israel’s presence here must continue for Israel’s security and the security of all.’
Bolton was being hosted by the Israeli leader for talks on ‘regional security’, according to the White House.
His visit came amid a tense standoff between the U.S. and Iran following a series of tanker attacks and the shooting down of an American drone.
The White House is set next week to present details for the first time of its long-awaited peace initiative being formulated by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.
The White House is set next week to present details of its long-awaited peace initiative being formulated by Jared Kushner (left). But the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas (right) is boycotting the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop in Bahrain
U.S. officials say it aims to raise more than $50billion and create more than a million jobs for the Palestinians within a decade.
But the Palestinian Authority is boycotting the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop in Bahrain.
Palestinians have accused Trump of seeking to buy them off and deprive them of an independent state.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he was confident the Bahrain conference would fail.
‘We need the economic (support), the money and the assistance, but before everything there is a political solution,’ he said.
‘For America to turn the whole cause from a political issue into an economic one, we cannot accept this.’