US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia for talks with the close ally amid mounting tensions with Iran.
Pompeo was welcomed by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz al-Assaf upon his arrival in Jeddah.
Pompeo is expected to meet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, before flying for talks in the United Arab Emirates, US officials said.
The US Secretary of State told reporters before departing that Washington wanted talks with Tehran even as it planned to impose “significant” new economic sanctions.
“We’ll be talking with (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition...that understands this challenge,” Pompeo said.
Relations between longtime foes Iran and the United States have deteriorated since Trump withdrew Washington a year ago from the 2015 accord that curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.
Tensions have flared following attacks in recent weeks on oil tankers in the Gulf which the United States blames on Iran, the shooting down of the drone last week, and repeated attacks on Saudi airports and oil installations by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia.
Tehran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks.