Pompeo thanks Saudi crown prince for supporting UN Yemen envoy Griffiths during Middle East tour

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is seen during a news conference with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah (not pictured) in Kuwait City. (Reuters)
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Mike Pompeo and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah exchange a signed document in Kuwait City. (AP)
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Mike Pompeo and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah are seen during a news conference in Kuwait City. (AP)
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Mike Pompeo (L) and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah give a joint press conference in Kuwait City. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019

Pompeo thanks Saudi crown prince for supporting UN Yemen envoy Griffiths during Middle East tour

  • Said he would discuss "strategic dialogue" and the need to combat "the threat posed by Iran"
  • Stops include Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon

LONDON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for supporting the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths during his stop in Kuwait on a Middle East tour.

Speaking on Wednesday in Kuwait City, Pompeo said he and the crown prince both agreed on the need for both parties in the Yemeni conflict to commit to the regulations of the Sweden agreement of 2018.

Pompeo is visiting the region to bolster a united front against Iran, kicking off his regional trip in Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

Pompeo told reporters on the flight from the US that he would discuss "strategic dialogue" and the need to combat "the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran" with leaders in the region.

After Kuwait Pompeo will fly to Israel before heading to Lebanon.

Pompeo is also pushing for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a US-sponsored Arab NATO aimed at uniting Washington's Arab allies against Tehran.

"We all have the same set of threats, threats from Al-Qaeda, from Daesh, threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said at a joint press conference with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah.

Pompeo expressed hope that a regional rift between Gulf states and Qatar would abate, saying that resolving the issue would be in the region's best interests.

The foreign minister of Kuwait said he had also discussed with Pompeo the Gulf dispute, as well as the ongoing situations in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said: "We hope the plan will take into account the situation in the region and all the relevant parties.

"We believe the strong relationship between the United States and several countries will lead to an acceptable resolution to all parties and to reaching a political solution that has been long waited for."

Pompeo said his talks on Wednesday also focused on enhancing defence and cybersecurity cooperation with Kuwait.

(With Agencies)


At least 13 people drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya

Updated 23 min 57 sec ago

At least 13 people drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya

  • The boat had set off from the town of Zliten, east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli
  • The Libyan Coast Guard said that it had ordered the rescue, and that search teams were scouring the area

CAIRO: Over a dozen migrants trying to reach Europe drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when their small dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya, the United Nations reported Friday, the latest shipwreck to underscore the deadly risks facing those who flee the war-afflicted North African country.
Libyan fishermen spotted the sinking boat late Thursday, said the International Organization for Migration, and managed to pull 22 people from the water, including those from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia and Ghana.
But at least 13 of the other passengers were missing and presumed drowned. Three dead bodies were found floating in the water, including one Syrian man and woman. The boat had set off from the town of Zliten, east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, late on Wednesday.
The Libyan Coast Guard said that it had ordered the rescue, and that search teams were scouring the area for more victims.
“So many boats are leaving these days, but autumn is a very difficult season,” said Commodore Masoud Abdal Samad. “When it gets windy, it’s deadly. It changes in an instant.”
Following the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants hoping to get to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route. At least 20,000 people have died in those waters since 2014, according to the UN
Those who survived Friday’s disaster were taken to the Tripoli port, where they received medical care for their burns, a common consequence of leaked engine fuel mixing with saltwater, said Safa Msehli, an IOM spokeswoman.
Libyan authorities shepherded the survivors to the Zliten detention center, run by the Tripoli-based government’s Interior Ministry. Migrants rescued at sea and returned to Libya routinely land in detention centers notorious for torture, extortion and abuse. Amnesty International revealed in a report Thursday that thousands of migrants have been forcibly disappeared from unofficial militia-run detention centers.
The shipwreck, the second to be recorded by the UN in as many weeks, “signals the need now more than ever for state-led search and rescue capacity to be redeployed and the need to support NGO vessels operating in a vacuum,” said Msehli.
Since 2017, European countries, particularly Italy, have delegated most search-and-rescue responsibility to the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepts migrant boats before they can reach European waters. Activists have lamented that European authorities are increasingly blocking the work of nongovernmental rescue organizations that patrol the Mediterranean and seek to disembark at European ports.