Saudi King Salman meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 29 April 2018
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Saudi King Salman meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is using the Middle East tour to call for concerted international action against Iran
  • Senior US officials traveling with Pompeo blamed Iran for smuggling missiles to Houthi militais in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received on Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is using the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad as America’s top diplomat to call for concerted international action to punish Iran for its missile programs.
He’s also urging Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to resolve a long-festering dispute with Qatar that US officials say Iran is exploiting to boost its influence in the region, including in Yemen and Syria.
“I think they would all agree that it’s in everyone’s best interests that the Gulf states all figure out how to be together,” Pompeo told reporters as he traveled to Israel. “We’ve got a common challenge in Iran I think they all recognize that. We’re hopeful that they will in their own way figure out their dispute between them.”
The ex-CIA chief arrived in Riyadh a day earlier, shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired missiles at Saudi Arabia’s southern city of Jazan, killing one person and underscoring what US officials said is a growing threat emanating from Iran.
Senior US officials traveling with Pompeo blamed Iran for smuggling the missiles into Yemen. They said the incident highlighted the importance of the Trump administration’s push to counter Iran in the region. Iran has also provided crucial support to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Iran destabilizes this entire region,” Pompeo said in brief remarks to journalists with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, taking no questions. Pompeo also stressed that Gulf unity was “essential.”
Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom “supports the policy of the Trump administration against Iran and to improve the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Mediation efforts led by Kuwait and supported by the US, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Trump fired last month, have proven unsuccessful.
Pompeo’s meetings in Saudi Arabia, to be followed by discussions in Israel and Jordan, come just weeks ahead of several key dates that could bring further volatility to the region.
Trump has set a May 12 deadline to decide whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, something he appears likely to do despite heavy pressure to stay in from European and other parties.
Two days later, the US plans to open its new embassy in Jerusalem. That will mark a significant shift in decades of American policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, who also claim the holy city as their capital.


Finance chiefs meet to map out Kingdom’s budget plans

Updated 7 min 20 sec ago
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Finance chiefs meet to map out Kingdom’s budget plans

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.