Pompeo reiterates US support for Saudi Arabia in CNN interview at G20 Summit

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the United States’ support for Saudi Arabia on Saturday in an exclusive interview with CNN on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina. (Screenshot: CNN)
Updated 01 December 2018
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Pompeo reiterates US support for Saudi Arabia in CNN interview at G20 Summit

  • Speaking to the network’s Wolf Blitzer, Pompeo said the Kingdom was “an enormous support” to the US
  • During the interview, he also said that the US and Saudi Arabia were working closely against Iran

BUENOS AIRES: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the United States’ support for Saudi Arabia on Saturday in an exclusive interview with CNN on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina.
Speaking to the network’s Wolf Blitzer, Pompeo said the Kingdom was “an enormous support” to the US.
He said: “They are a relationship that has mattered for 70 years across Republican and Democrat administrations alike, and remain an important relationship. We’re aiming to keep that relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
When asked about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Pompeo cited a lack of direct evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder on Oct. 2 in Istanbul.

“I have read every piece of intelligence that’s in the possession of the United States government,” Pompeo told Blitzer.
“And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is a accurate statement, it is an important statement, and it is a statement that we are making publicly today.”
Saudi Arabia’s prosecution has charged 11 people with involvement in the journalist’s death, while Donald Trump’s administration imposed penalties on 17 individuals last month over their alleged roles in the killing of Khashoggi.
During the interview, he also said that the US and Saudi Arabia were working closely in Afghanistan as well as against Iran.
Pompeo’s statement of US support for the Kingdom comes after he wrote on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia remained a “powerful force for stability in the Middle East” and warned against any attempts to harm US relations with Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia, like the US – and unlike these critics – recognizes the immense threat the Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the world,” he wrote in a blog post.


Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

Updated 34 min 52 sec ago
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Taliban militants ‘in talks with Chinese officials’

  • Delegation visits Beijing days before seventh round of dialogue with US

ISLAMABAD: An Afghan Taliban delegation is visiting Beijing for talks with Chinese officials just days ahead of the group’s seventh round of talks with US officials in Qatar, a former Taliban spokesman told Arab News on Sunday.

China has played an increasingly active role in the Afghan peace process, alongside Russia and the US.

In April, the three countries pressed the Taliban to hold talks with Afghan politicians and civilians as an important step to end the 17-year conflict.

Abdul Hai Mutmayen, who was the Taliban’s chief spokesman in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said the head of the group’s political office, Abdul Ghani Baradar, is leading the delegation in Beijing.

“It seems that Taliban leaders are making efforts to hold consultations and exchange their views with key stakeholders ahead of the next round. The visit is an indication that the seventh round is important,” Mutmayen added. 

China has offered to host intra-Afghan talks if all sides agree to such a role, but has ruled out being a mediator. 

BACKGROUND

• Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

• In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Taliban officials have said they could accept China as a guarantor if they reach a peace deal with the US.

In 2015, China hosted a secret meeting between the Taliban and Afghan government officials, said former Taliban Minister Mullah Abdul Jalil.

Abrar Hussain, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, told Arab News on Sunday that China’s involvement in peace efforts is economically and politically motivated.

“China’s interest in Afghan peace ... will lead to the withdrawal of foreign troops and bring economic opportunities, so China has been hosting informal meetings for this purpose,” he said.

With the withdrawal of foreign troops top of the Taliban’s agenda going into the next round of talks with the US, the group’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told Arab News that the ball is in America’s court. 

“They (the US) will decide the date (of a troop withdrawal), and they should decide an appropriate timetable with our consent. We’ll talk about the internal aspect of the problem if the external aspect is settled,” he said.

Mohammed Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, told Arab News: “China wants peace in Afghanistan but it has apprehensions. If the US leaves Afghanistan in haste, stability in Afghanistan and the region will further deteriorate, and China will have to take responsibility to fix the issue.”