Our policies do not change. Our task does not change. My responsibilities do not change, he said. I still have an obligation every hour, every minute to protect the American people and keep them at the forefront of our efforts, and to do it well. Well do it at the last minute.
In what was likely his last tour of the Persian Gulf as secretary of state, he proclaimed the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy focused on Iran as the main threat within the region and a campaign of maximum pressure hampering Iran’s ability to support militias in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
It will be our policy until our time runs out, he said, stopping to say when he would stop working as a senior U.S. diplomat.
President Donald Trump has refused to accept Biden, despite the Trump campaign’s futile attempts to block vote certification in various states.
The Trump administration is trying to increase pressure on Iran before Biden takes office. Biden has said he wants to return to rapprochement with Iran. Analysts say Biden is expected to be more willing to engage the Iranians to avoid a major escalation, although he is likely to crush Tehran over its missile program and not just its nuclear program.
Trump is viewed favorably by the heavyweights of the Gulf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for pulling the United States out of a nuclear deal with Iran and reinstating comprehensive sanctions that have depleted Iran of vital oil revenues.
Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia late Sunday to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before returning to Washington. His tour also included stops in France, Turkey and Israel, including an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank and a museum honoring Christian Zionists.
Trump was recently rumored to be moving forward with a military strike on Iran’s main nuclear site by advisers including Pompeo, according to a New York Times report. When asked about this, a State Department official traveling with Pompeo told reporters that all options are on the table and that the Trump administration will continue to pursue its policies until it is no longer in office.
Pompeo kicked off his Gulf tour in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi early Saturday, meeting with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who is seen as the daily ruler and powerful figure behind the country’s major policy decisions. .
The State Department said they discussed the progress of the UAE decision to normalize ties with Israel a move that was followed by Bahrain and Sudan. They also discussed security co-operation and the fight against Iran’s malignant influence in the region, as well as that of China, the US statement said.
Pompeo also underlined the importance of the unity of the Gulf.
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have largely opposed US efforts to reconcile with Qatar, which they accuse of sponsoring terrorism and supporting violent Islamic groups across the region. The four cut ties with Qatar in mid-2017 and have asked the gas-rich Arab state shuttle its main news network Al Jazeera among other demands, which Qatar has completely rejected, along with the allegations.
Pompeo departed from Abu Dhabi for Qatar on Saturday, although there are no direct commercial flights due to the stalemate.
He had lunch with the ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and met with the Qatari foreign minister. The State Department said Pompeo discussed regional issues and the importance of a united Gulf to counter the destabilizing activity of Iranian regimes and the threat to the region posed by China.
Qatar, however, has warm ties with Iran. The two countries also share a massive underwater gas field in the Persian Gulf.
While in Qatar, Pompeo also met with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, where the warring parties are holding talks on the country’s future. Despite a sharp rise in violence this year, Washington plans to withdraw about 2,500 troops before mid-January, leaving about 2,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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