Pompeo on diplomatic tightrope in Saudi talks over Khashoggi murder

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Riyadh, Jan 15 :
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced a tough balancing act on Monday as he pressed Saudi Arabia’s crown prince over critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder while shoring up strategic ties with Riyadh. The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, held talks with King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which also focused on the conflict in Yemen and countering threats from Iran. Pompeo walked a diplomatic tightrope on his second politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder as he demanded that all those involved in the crime be held accountable. The king and crown prince “both acknowledge that this accountability needs to take place”, Pompeo said in Riyadh following talks with them. “They reiterated their commitment,” he added.
Relations between Riyadh and Washington have remained strained after journalist Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh said the murder was carried out by “rogue” Saudi agents, but the US Central Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the hit.
Pompeo’s meeting with the crown prince lasted around 45 minutes. The US diplomat appeared more reserved than his previous visit at the height of the Khashoggi affair, when his broad smiles with the crown prince outraged many Americans.

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