Pompeo discusses Iran with Gulf allies amid escalating crisis

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 24, 2019. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Iran and maritime security with rich Gulf Arab allies during a trip to the region on Monday after President Donald Trump called off a military strike to retaliate for Tehran’s downing of a U.S. drone.

A senior U.S. State Department official said that the United States is building a coalition with its allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes by having “eyes on all shipping”, following recent attacks on oil tankers that Washington blamed on Iran.

Pompeo arrived in the United Arab Emirates after meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia where talks covered protection for ships in the Gulf.

“Freedom of navigation is paramount,” Pompeo tweeted from the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The senior U.S. official told reporters en route to Abu Dhabi that Pompeo and the U.S. Navy is building a “Sentinel” program for “proactive deterrence”. He said a coalition of nations would provide both material and financial contributions, but did not name the countries.

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