Pompeo says cooperation with Israel over Syria and Iran to continue

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a photo opportunity with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 01 January 2019

Pompeo says cooperation with Israel over Syria and Iran to continue

BRASILIA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the United States would continue to cooperate with Israel over Syria and in countering Iran in the Middle East, even as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he met with Pompeo in the Brazilian capital that he planned to discuss how to intensify intelligence and operations cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian “aggression.”
In his first public comments on Trump’s decision, Pompeo said it “in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel.”
“The counter-Daesh campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue and our commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made,” he said.
Trump announced last month that he planned to withdraw US troops from Syria, declaring that they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State and were no longer needed in the country.
In making the announcement, Trump ignored the advice of top national security aides and did so without consulting lawmakers or US allies participating in anti-Daesh operations. The decision prompted Jim Mattis to resign as defense secretary.
“We have a lot to discuss,” said Netanyahu, who like Pompeo was in the Brazilian capital for the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s new president.
“We’re going to be discussing our, the intense cooperation between Israel and the United States which will also deal with the questions following the decision, the American decision, on Syria and how to intensify even further our intelligence and operational cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian aggression in the Middle East.”
Netanyahu said Israel was very appreciative of the “strong ... unequivocal support” Pompeo gave Israel’s “efforts at self defense against Syria” in the past few days.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Pompeo and Netanyahu “discussed the unacceptable threat that regional aggression and provocation by Iran and its agents poses to Israeli and regional security” and Pompeo reiterated the US commitment to Israel’s security and right to self-defense.
Netanyahu said last month after Trump’s announcement that Israel would escalate its fight against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria after the withdrawal of US troops.
Israel sees the spread of Iran’s influence in the Middle East as a growing threat, and has carried out scores of air strikes in civil war-torn Syria against suspected military deployments and arms deliveries by Iranian forces supporting Damascus.


Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

Updated 25 January 2020

Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

  • The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahar
  • The territory has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975

RABAT: The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said on Friday their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975.
Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal cover to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern in Spain’s Canary Islands, where the government warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.
“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
“Morocco rejects unilateral acts and fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.
Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands.”
“Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” she said, citing “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.