Pompeo to discuss Khashoggi’s killing during Middle East tour

Washington: US Secretary of State Micheal R. Pompeo is likely to press for the need to retain accountability and credibility while probing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during his upcoming tour to the Middle East, officials said on Friday.

Pompeo will be visiting eight countries between January 8 and 15, namely Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.

In Riyadh, Pompeo is slated to meet Saudi leaders to discuss matters related to Yemen, Iran and Syria. He will also seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of Khashoggi, Al Jazeera reported.

Furthermore, Pompeo is likely to raise the case with Saudi leaders and “continue to push for accountability and credibility from the Saudi leadership as they move through the legal process that began earlier this week,” the publication quoted sources, as saying.

Khashoggi, a journalist with The Washington Post, was murdered in the Saudi consular premises in Istanbul in October.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia held the initial hearing in the murder case, wherein the public prosecutor sought the death penalty for five of the 11 accused for their alleged direct involvement in the killing of the scribe.

Pompeo’s visit also comes at a time when US troops are being pulled out of Syria on the directions of President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, Pompeo had told a media house that the United States has asserted that it will ensure that “Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds” in Syria amid the exit of US troops in the strife-torn region.

Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria was announced on December 19 last year, after declaring the Islamic State (ISIS) to have been fully ‘destroyed’.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who reportedly resigned from his post in the wake of Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops, had earlier warned that the move would further risk the fight against ISIS, betray the Syrian Kurdish-Arab forces allies on ground and concede the eastern part of the country to the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.