April 29 2018 01:45 PM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday met with Saudi leaders on his first visit to the Middle East.
Pompeo briefed Saudi officials on President Donald Trump's plans for Iran's nuclear deal as Washington seeks to rally support for new sanctions against Iran.
Pompio's visit to Riyadh, Jerusalem and Amman comes just two days after he was sworn in as US President Donald Trump prepares to decide on a withdrawal from a nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015 that is still supported by European powers.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir called Sunday for a "better" nuclear deal with Iran, two weeks before the US president announced his decision to withdraw from the deal.
"Saudi Arabia supports efforts to improve Iran's nuclear agreement," al-Jubair said. "We also believe that the Iranian problem must be dealt with by imposing further sanctions."
Pompeo will visit Saudi Arabia and Israel, along with Jordan, during his three-day visit to discuss the agreement signed with Tehran to limit its nuclear program.
The United States has urged its European and other allies to impose sanctions on Iran to curb its missile program, which it says is an international threat to peace and security.
"We urge the nations of the world to punish any individuals or entities linked to Iran's missile program," said Brian Hawke, senior political adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Bombio, in Riyadh. "It's also a big part of the discussions with the Europeans."
Hawk, who is negotiating with European allies for changes to Iran's nuclear deal, said Iran's missile program would be a key issue in talks between Pompeo and Saudi and Israeli officials.
"The Iranian problem must be dealt with by imposing further sanctions," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair said.
"Iranian missiles prolong war and suffering in the Middle East, threaten our security and our economic interests, and particularly threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel."
The 2015 agreement limits Iran's nuclear program to a quarter of the sanctions and does not include its missile program.
Trump described the nuclear deal as "the worst agreement ever" and threatened to re-impose sanctions on Iran unless the European allies agreed Britain, France and Germany to amend the deal. The resumption of sanctions is likely to undermine the agreement.
Pompio stressed that Trump had not yet decided on the Iranian nuclear deal reached after tough negotiations between Iran and the six major powers (the United States, China, France, Britain, Russia and Germany), but is likely to decide to withdraw his country from the agreement on May 12, To re-impose sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.