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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 February 2019

World Economic Forum 2019: Mike Pompeo says Middle East coalitions vital to countering Iran

In his address, the US Secretary of State maintains ISIS has been defeated, despite Syria attack

The US is committed to Middle East stability but will need "coalitions to be built", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, saying the threat from Iran in the region is "very real”.

His comments reflected Washington’s hardened stance on the Islamic Republic – a position Mr Pompeo has conveyed to allies during a Middle East tour earlier this month.

He spoke on Tuesday via satellite link from Washington because President Donald Trump decided to cancel America’s delegation to Davos because of the US government shutdown.

The senior American official warned of what he described as the threat posed by Iran’s “foreign adventurism”.

“America is committed to helping the Middle East be secure and stable,” he said. “We are a force for good in the region and we have been for a long time.”

He said America “will need coalitions built out to ensure that there is Middle East stability”.

He said the Middle East Strategic Alliance programme – a concept that has been described as an "Arab Nato" – is an “important component” of how America will approach threats to regional stability.

He said Iran is “truly the malign actor” in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a challenge. In Iraq, Iran is striving to reduce freedom, sovereignty and independence, he said.

He said that a coalition of US allies is “so central” to creating stability in the Middle East.

He also spoke about the use of Iranian weapons by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who he accused of violating a ceasefire arrangement reached during UN peace talks in Sweden.

Speaking on Yemen, he said he was hopeful of a solution to the years-long war and that the US was committed to working with the UN on brokering a political solution to the conflict.

He also said that Gulf states who are members of the Arab-led coalition are committed to achieving a solution to the war.

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On Washington’s battle against ISIS, Mr Pompeo said: “It should not go unnoticed that we’ve also defeated the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq... There’s a lot more work to do, and with your help, I know we’ll achieve it.

Days earlier, four American personnel were killed in an ISIS attack on the Syrian city of Manbij.

Updated: January 23, 2019 10:39 AM

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