Mike Pompeo To Visit Middle East, Seek Update On Khashoggi Murder Probe

Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway seemed to hint that the US president might be planning to tweak his blueprint for a troop withdrawal from Syria

Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway seemed to hint that the US president might be planning to tweak his blueprint for a troop withdrawal from Syria

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to eight Middle East capitals next week for talks on security expected to focus on Yemen, Syria and Iran, the State Department announced Friday. Jeffrey will also continue as a special representative on Syria.

Washington is seeking to build a consensus on how to deal with Syria and its supporter Iran in the wake of President Donald Trump's announcement in December of a U.S. troop withdrawal from the war-torn country. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had resigned in protest two days earlier.

The officials at Friday's briefing said that a main theme of Pompeo's trip would be to discuss strategies to contain Iran, a Persian and predominantly Shiite state that is seen as a nemesis not only by most of the region's predominantly Sunni Arab nations, but also by Israel and the Trump administration.

The US has said the Saudi Arabian version of events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's death has not hit the "threshold of credibility" just yet, despite Riyadh prosecuting suspects.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia's prosecutor announced that the trials of 11 Saudis accused of being involved in Khashoggi's murder had started in the Gulf kingdom. Last month, in a rare move that amounted to a strong rebuke to the president, the Republican-led Senate voted 56-41 to end US aid to the coalition. The Senate also passed a separate resolution blaming Crown Prince Mohammed for Khashoggi's death.

US President Donald Trump has cultivated a close relationship with the crown prince and says he stands by the kingdom's de facto ruler despite the Central Intelligence Agency assessment and pleas from US senators for Trump to condemn and punish the prince. And at the State Department, Pompeo has voiced his support for Trump's approach. One official did say, however, that the removal of senior Saudi officials from posts did not amount to holding them responsible for the killing.

Manchester City's Brahim Diaz on brink of £22m Real Madrid transfer
Brahim, 18, is poised to move to Santiago Bernabeu in a deal worth an initial £15.5 million ($19m), plus £6.5m in add-ons. Manchester City youngster Brahim Diaz is closing in on an €15 million move to Real Madrid .

USA intelligence agencies believe Saudi Arabia's crown prince orchestrated an operation to kill the writer - a staunch critic of his - and have his body dismembered and removed to an unknown location. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He said there was no timeline for the withdraw and that it would be "heavily coordinated" with U.S. allies in the region so as not to let up pressure on Isis, or leave a vacuum in areas of northern and southern Syria where U.S. troops have been operating.

The death penalty would be recommended against five of those suspects, the prosecutor said on Thursday.

The visit will come against the backdrop of the ongoing blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

A spokeswoman for the UN's top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said on Friday that the trial is "not sufficient" and does not meet the requirements of an independent and global enquiry.

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