Wed, 20 Mar 2019 - 02:32 GMT
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - Photo: REUTERS
CAIRO – 20 March 2019: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his main focus during a visit to Kuwait, Israel, and Lebanon will be to counter Iran’s influence in the Middle East region.
Pompeo arrived late Tuesday in Kuwait on top of a delegation for the 3rd session of the US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue.
“On each stop of his trip, the Secretary will encourage leaders to expose Iran’s activities and stop the regime’s corrupt and destabilizing actions,” Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement ahead of Pompeo’s departure on Sunday.
“The Iranian regime is the single greatest threat to stability in the Middle East,” Palladino said.
During his visit to Kuwait, Pompeo seeks to bolster Kuwait’s efforts to end the rift between the Anti-Terrorism Quartet, in which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have split with Qatar for supporting and financing terrorism, after turning to Iran and Turkey for support.
The Trump administration has been pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, backed by Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to U.S. and Arab officials.
The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties, four sources said according to Reuters.
The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have called an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies will likely raise tensions between the United States and Shiite Iran.
Pompeo has told reporters “We will spend a lot of time talking with the Lebanese Government about how we can help them disconnect from the threat that Iran and Hezbollah present to them.”
As for the Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS), which exists in Iraq, Pompeo added, “We’re trying to help Iraq become an independent, sovereign state, disconnected from any other country.”