US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet PM Netanyahu for talks on Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Israel on Sunday to talk with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran’s regional aggression and the nuclear deal with Tehran.

The former CIA director, who was sworn in as Rex Tillerson’s replacement on Thursday, left immediately for a Friday meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

He landed Saturday at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh, where he was greeted by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Saudi officials.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert tweeted after Pompeo’s meeting with Jubeir that “Saudi Arabia plays an important leadership role in working toward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region.

“A strong US-Saudi partnership is critical to that effort,” she added.

Pompeo will also talk with King Salman before heading to Jerusalem on Sunday, where he is expected to deliver a public statement with Netanyahu.

Brian Hook, Pompeo’s senior policy adviser, said in Riyadh that Iran’s missile program would be a major topic in talks in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Hook, who is negotiating changes to the Iran nuclear deal with European allies, called Iran’s missile program a threat to international peace and security.

He called on Europe and others to impose sanctions to curb Iran’s missile program.

“We are urging nations around the world to sanction any individuals and entities associated with Iran’s missile program, and it has also been a big part of discussions with Europeans.”

US President Donald Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore American economic sanctions on Tehran, which would be a severe blow to the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers. Netanyahu has long opposed the deal.

Pompeo is expected to travel to Jordan to speak with King Abdullah before heading back to Washington on Monday.

He picked those three Middle East stops – Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan – “because of all that is going on,” Nauert said.

Pompeo arrives just two weeks before the US is scheduled to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Trump said Friday he might travel to Israel for the opening of the embassy. “I may go,” he said.

Administration officials have previously said it was unlikely Trump would lead the delegation, and that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, would travel in his stead.

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