The Latest: Pompeo arrives in Saudi Arabia amid Iran crisis
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on tensions between the U.S. and Iran and in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia, where he is to meet Saudi Crown Mohammed bin Salman amid heightened tensions with the kingdom’s rival, Iran.
Before departing to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo said he would be talking to officials in the Persian Gulf as well as Asia and Europe as he sets out to build an international coalition against Iran.
Pompeo said the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, but also that new U.S. sanctions against Tehran will be announced Monday.
Pompeo was greeted upon his arrival on Monday in the Red Sea city of Jiddah by new U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid and Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.
From the kingdom, Pompeo will travel next to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, a close U.S. ally.
Iran’s naval chief is threatening the United States, saying Tehran is capable of shooting down other American spy drones such as the one downed last week by Revolutionary Guard forces.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency carried Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi’s warning on Monday, made during a meeting with a group of defense officials.
Khanzadi says Iran can always deliver another “crushing response … and the enemy knows it.”
President Donald Trump last week called off military strikes against Iran after the Iranians shot down U.S. surveillance drone, valued at over $100 million, on Thursday.
Iran alleges that the drone violated its airspace, which the U.S. denies.
Trump, however, has also said that he appreciated Iran’s decision to not shoot down a manned U.S. spy plane carrying 30 people in the same area as the drone.
Saudi Arabia has raised the number of people wounded in a Yemeni rebel attack on an airport in the kingdom to 21. It had previously said a Syrian resident was also killed in the attack.
The airport in the southwestern town of Abha was struck shortly after 9 p.m. local time on Sunday.
Saudi Col. Turki al-Maliki did not say what type of weapon was used in the attack. The spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen’s Iranian-allied rebel Houthis noted that the rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they used bomb-laden Qasef-2K drones.
The wounded include 13 Saudis, four Indians, two Egyptians and two Bangladeshis. Al-Maliki was quoted Monday on Saudi state TV saying 18 were hospitalized, two with serious burns.
The U.S. secretary of state says he will be talking to officials in the Persian Gulf as well as Asia and Europe as he sets out to build an international coalition against Iran.
Mike Pompeo traveled from Washington to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to begin a set of hastily arranged meetings designed to push back against what he calls the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.
Pompeo’s mission comes as the U.S. sends conflicting signals on Iran, ranging from bellicose to conciliatory and back again.
Amid the tough talk on Iran, Pompeo himself says the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, without preconditions, in a bid to ease tensions.
That said, new sanctions are to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks.