Pompeo in Bahrain on first leg of tour of Gulf allies

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa after arriving at Manama International Airport in Manama, Bahrain, Jan. 11, 2019. (Reuters)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan arrive in Manama International Airport in Manama on January 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second right, and his wife Susan, third right, pose for pictures with Assistant Foreign Minister for North and South American Affairs , Reda Habeeb Ibrahim Zaki, right, and Charge d'Affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, Tom Goldberger, left, before boarding the plane leaving Egypt as he departs for Manama, Bahrain at Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP)
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Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, left, watches as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves at the Al-Qudaibiya Palace in Manama, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2019

Pompeo in Bahrain on first leg of tour of Gulf allies

  • In Bahrain, Pompeo is due to have a working lunch with King Hamad
  • Bahrain, a key US ally in the Gulf, hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet

MANAMA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Bahrain on Friday, the first leg of a tour of Gulf monarchies which Washington says are “critical” to confronting Iran and militants.
“These Gulf partnerships are critical to achieving shared regional objectives — defeating Daesh, countering radical Islamic terrorism, protecting global energy supplies and rolling back Iranian aggression,” a State Department spokesman said.
In Bahrain, Pompeo is due to have a working lunch with King Hamad, Crown Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa, according to his official program.
Bahrain, a key US ally in the Gulf, hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet with around 7,800 US military personnel deployed in the country, as well as a British naval base.
It is one of the closest allies of regional power house Saudi Arabia and shares its hostility Iran.
“Bahrain is a staunch supporter of countering Iran’s malign efforts” in the region, the US spokesman said.
“Bahrain continues efforts to investigate and counter Iranian sanctions evasion and combat illicit maritime activity,” he added.
Pompeo’s visit is part of a whistlestop regional tour aimed at reassuring US allies after President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria.
The US top diplomat flew in to Manama from Cairo and has already visited Amman, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.
He will also visit the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
State Department officials have said Pompeo hopes his trip will strengthen the GCC.
The State Department has said that a “united Gulf Cooperation Council the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security and stability” and key to countering Iran.
It said Pompeo would also work with regional leaders to advance a proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance — a NATO-style security pact.


Israel starts to install sensors along Lebanon border

Updated 44 min 49 sec ago

Israel starts to install sensors along Lebanon border

  • Work would get underway Sunday at the Israeli kibbutz town of Misgav Am to deploy the new noise-detecting technology
  • The move comes a year after Israel concluded a weeks-long operation to destroy tunnels it accused Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah of building

JERUSALEM: Israel’s army said it would start drilling to install ground sensors along its border with Lebanon on Sunday, a year after an operation to destroy tunnels dug across the frontier.
“We are deploying a defensive system into the ground.. in various locations” along the border, spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told journalists.
Work would get underway Sunday at the Israeli kibbutz town of Misgav Am, he said, to deploy the new noise-detecting technology.
The move comes a year after Israel concluded a weeks-long operation to destroy tunnels it accused Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah of building.
At least six tunnels were discovered in the operation dubbed “Northern Shield” along the border where a United Nations peacekeeping force is deployed.
Conricus said the drilling is “not related to any new intelligence” and all military activity would take place on the Israeli side of the border.
Work at Misgav Am is expected to last a number of weeks before the sensors are installed along other sections of the border.
“We understand that our activity might be seen, and most probably will be heard, on the Lebanese side,” said Conricus.
Israel has notified the UNIFIL peacekeeping force which patrols the “blue line” drawn by the UN to mark Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war.
A month-long conflict in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.