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Pompeo to head to Middle East for talks on Yemen, Syria, Iran

The US Secretary of State leaves on 8 January on the eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

US secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - 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.

Pompeo leaves on 8 January on the eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

On his second stop in Cairo he will deliver a speech on the US "commitment to peace, prosperity, stability, and security in the Middle East," the department said.

A key stop will be in Riyadh, whose relations with the US have been strained by the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul last year, which US intelligence believes was directed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite his denials.

Pompeo will seek an update on the investigation into Khashoggi's death, as well as hold discussions on other regional subjects, the State Department said.

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 US troop withdrawal from the war-torn country.

It is also seeking a solution to the three-year-old war in Yemen in which a Saudi-led, US-supported coalition has battled with Iran-supported Huthi rebels over control of the country.

Both sides recently agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeida while UN envoy Martin Griffiths seeks to bring about a new round of talks between them.

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