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Pompeo Arrives in Saudi Arabia, Pushes Hard Line On Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging countries to sanction entities that aid Iran's missile program.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pushing the international community during his Middle East trip to impose new sanctions an people or entities that aid Iran’s missile program, a senior official has said.

"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," Brian Hook, a senior policy adviser traveling with Pompeo, said on April 28 in Saudi Arabia.

"Iran's missiles prolong war and suffering in the Middle East, they threaten our security and economic interests and they especially threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel," he said.

Pompeo, who was sworn in this week as the top U.S. diplomat, arrived in Riyadh as part of a Middle East trip following his attendance at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. He will also visit Jerusalem and Amman.

His trip comes as President Donald Trump’s May 12 deadline nears for signees to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran to fix what he sees as major flaws or face a U.S. withdrawal from the deal.

Britain, France, German, Russia, and China, which also have signed the accord, have urged Washington remain part of the deal, saying it is the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

But Trump says Tehran has violated the “spirit” of the deal by continuing to test ballistic missiles and by fomenting insurgent violence in the Middle East, allegations Iran denies.

The accord provides Iran with sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Pompeo said in a news conference from Brussels on April 27 that “no decision” has been made yet on continued U.S. participation in the accord. But he said unless substantial changes are made, it is “unlikely” Trump will remain in the deal.

Pompeo, who served as director of the CIA before becoming secretary of state two days ago, was one of the first Trump administration officials to visit Saudi Arabia early in his time as head of the spy agency.

He was greeted at the airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and is expected to meet Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and King Salman during the visit.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa