- Pompeo: Israel, Palestinian peace still a US priority
Iran’s supreme leader on Monday hit out at the United States a day after new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh, accusing Washington of trying to stoke a “regional crisis” by provoking its ally Saudi Arabia to confront Tehran, Reuters reported.
In remarks broadcast on state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated longstanding calls for the United States to “leave” the Middle East, which he called Iran’s home, and said any power seeking to challenge Iran would be defeated.
“One of the ways to confront Iran is to provoke inexperienced rulers of the region,” he said, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Americans are trying to provoke Saudi Arabia against Tehran … Their aim is to create more regional crisis … to push Muslims to fight against Muslims.”
“If these governments gain more wisdom, they will not confront Iran. If they confront Iran, they will be defeated.”
Khamenei’s remarks were aired a day after Pompeo met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on a flying visit to the region.
Pompeo said on Sunday that the United States was deeply concerned by Iran’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East.
The Associated Press meanwhile reported Pompeo as saying on Monday that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a priority for the Trump administration, despite its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its planned move of the US Embassy to the holy city over Palestinian protests.
Pompeo also said the U.S. is “fully supportive” of Israel’s right to defend itself and declined to criticise the Israeli military for its use of live fire against Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border.
He spoke in the Jordanian capital of Amman as he wrapped up the Middle East leg of his first overseas trip as America’s top diplomat.
Pompeo called on the Palestinians to return to long-stalled peace talks with Israel. He said the United States is open to a two-state solution to the conflict if both parties agree, calling it a “likely outcome.”
But he would not agree with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi’s characterization of the conflict as “the main cause of instability” in the region.
“The parties will ultimately make the decision as to what the correct resolution is,” Pompeo told reporters at a joint news conference with Safadi. “We are certainly open to a two-party solution as a likely outcome.”
But, he said, the Palestinians had to return to a political dialogue to get there.