Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized Saudi Arabia for helping to foster recent diplomatic accords between Israel and two Arab countries, and asked that Riyadh establish its own ties with Jerusalem.
The accords between Israel and two Middle East nations — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — reflect a changing dynamic, wherein regional cooperation will form a bulwark against malign action from Iran, Pompeo said Wednesday. He made his remarks in Washington, D.C. at a joint appearance with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well, and we want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far,” Pompeo said. “We hope, too, that the kingdom will encourage the Palestinian side to return to dialogue and negotiation with Israel.”
Pompeo’s comments provide insight into behind the scenes involvement from the nation that has offered only carefully couched support for the accords. The two Middle East powerhouses do not have diplomatic relations with one another, but reportedly have worked together on common security goals.
In his own portion of the Wednesday press conference, the Saudi Foreign Minister did not address the prospect of forging official ties with Israel, but focused on the primary common goal of countering Iran.
“The Iranian regime continues to provide financial and material support to terrorist groups, including in Yemen, where the Houthis have launched more than 300 Iranian-made ballistic missiles and drones towards the Kingdom,” Al Saud said. “Their development of their nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and their malign activities represent a grave danger to the region and the world.”
In that regard, he said, the Oct. 14 strategic dialogue with Pompeo was a way to mutually affirm the two countries’ joint position toward Tehran.
“We are both committed to counter and deter Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” Al Saud said.
Both Pompeo and Al Saud underscored the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the United States, dating to the kingdom’s earlier days.
“Ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Al Saud first laid the foundation for our ties 75 years ago, Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in this volatile region,” Pompeo said. “The relationship between our people has grown since that time, and it’s distinguished today by deep and steady cooperation between our two nations.”
During the press appearance, Pompeo announced that the United States will acquire a 26-acre site for a new U.S. embassy in Riyadh. The new embassy, along with work on consulates in Dhahran and Jeddah, amount to more than $1 billion invested in Saudi Arabia, Pompeo said.