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Pompeo meets Saudi king, crown prince to discuss Iran

Updated June 24, 2019 - 6:32 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with Saudi King Salman and separately with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the escalated crisis in the Persian Gulf.

Pompeo arrived in the Saudi city of Jiddah earlier on Monday in a hastily arranged visit amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran as Iran’s navy chief warned Iranian forces wouldn’t hesitate to shoot down more U.S. surveillance drones from their skies.

Pompeo was greeted upon his arrival in Jiddah by new U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid and Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.

Before departing, Pompeo said he’d be talking to officials in the Persian Gulf as well as Asia and Europe as he sets out to build an international coalition against Iran.

While Pompeo said the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, he also said new U.S. sanctions against Iran are to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning that perhaps the U.S. should ask for other countries to help pay for shipping protection it provides with U.S. Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. Navy says another American warship has arrived to the Mideast amid heightened tensions with Iran.

Monday’s Navy statement says the USS Boxer amphibious assault ship, along with the amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry arrived in the 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility.

The Navy didn’t elaborate on where the ships were.

The Bahrain-based 5th Fleet oversees the Navy’s presence in the Persian Gulf and surrounding Mideast waters.

The USS Boxer carries the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as well as a combat helicopter squadron. It came from the Indian Ocean after leaving San Diego on May 1. The Boxer’s group replaces that of the USS Kearsarge.

Already, the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and accompanying vessels are in the region. It was rushed to the region in May by the White House over what it described at the time as threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran’s naval commander Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi warned that Iranian forces wouldn’t hesitate to act again and shoot down more U.S. surveillance drones.

He told a meeting of defense officials that the “crushing response can always be repeated, and the enemy knows it.”

The downing of the drone, valued at more than $100 million, saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran after President Donald Trump last week called off strikes in retaliation.

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