US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for talks on the crisis sparked by Iran’s downing an American drone.
“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition” on Iran, he said.
Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone on Thursday, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz — a claim the United States denies.
US President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been “proportionate,” with Tehran warning any attack would see Washington’s interests across the Middle East go up in flames.
Pompeo said he would stop in the two countries on his way to India, where he begins a visit on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters as he left Washington, Pompeo called Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates “great allies in the challenge that Iran presents.”
Pompeo denounced a map that was released by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that purported to show a spy drone encroaching its airspace in late May and urged media not to find it credible.
“You’ve seen that child-like map that Foreign Minister Zarif put out that contrasts with the excellence and professionalism of America’s military and intelligence services,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said that Iran’s map “should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about where that unarmed vehicle was — it was flying in international airspace.”
“We shouldn’t let the Iranians have one moment where any reporter would write that there is even a credible response to the data set that the Americans have put forward,” he said, accusing Iran of “sowing disinformation in lots of lots of places.”
But Pompeo reiterated Trump’s offer of dialogue to improve relations with Iran, which the US administration has sought to isolate through harsh sanctions.
“We’re prepared to negotiate with no preconditions. They know precisely how to find us,” Pompeo said.
“And I am confident that at the very moment they’re ready to truly engage with us, we will able to begin this conversation,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the day,” he added.
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Multimillionaire predator Jeffrey Epstein died in suspicious circumstances at a Manhattan correctional facility on Aug. 10. The wealthy and powerful New York financier, a convicted sex offender, stands accused by dozens of women and girls of trafficking, rape and sexual abuse. He was an enormously influential and well-connected man who counted as friends billionaire business owners, Hollywood stars, British royals, and even top media figures like Katie Couric and Charlie Rose — with some of his associates falling under suspicion of condoning or even participating in a pedophile ring.
Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines
A powerful earthquake hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday, killing a child, injuring dozens and damaging buildings in an area still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.
Police said a rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada near the 6.8 magnitude quake's epicentre, which is about 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of the major city of Davao.
Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls after the jolt and dozens of smaller, but strong aftershocks.
50 bodies unearthed from Mexican mass grave
The bodies of at least 50 people have been unearthed from a mass grave at a farm outside Mexico's western city of Guadalajara, local authorities said.
The grim site was discovered just over three weeks ago in Jalisco -- a state hard-hit by violence linked to organized crime.
The local prosecutor's office said Saturday 13 of the dead -- 12 men and a woman -- have been identified and the remains given to their families.
The process of identifying more of the victims and how they died will continue, it added.
A mass grave with 34 bodies was discovered in a suburb of Guadalajara on September 3, while another was found nearby in May with the remains of 30 people.