Pompeo heads to Saudi, UAE to discuss escalating tensions with Iran

Washington: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo left for Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Sunday to hold talks regarding the escalating tensions with Iran, especially after Tehran downed a US military drone in the Gulf of Oman recently.

He reiterated the United States’ offer to hold talks with the Middle Eastern nation with “no preconditions,” according to Al Arabiya.

“We’re prepared to negotiate with no preconditions. They know precisely where to find us. I am confident that at the very moment they are ready to engage with us, we will be able to begin these conversations,” the official told reporters before boarding his plane.

The already strained US-Iran relationship has further deteriorated after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Thursday downed an “intruding American spy drone” — RQ-4 Global Hawk — after it violated Iranian airspace over the southern coastal province of Hormozgan.

Washington has labelled it as an “unprovoked attack,” claiming that the drone was flying over international waters when it was attacked.

US President Donald Trump has since stated that he stopped retaliatory action against Iran just 10 minutes before the strike on Thursday night.

Iran, on its part, has left no stone unturned to prove that the US drone was in its territorial waters to back its action. The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has shared multiple maps showing the US unmanned aerial vehicle’s flight path, the warnings sent out by Iran and the point of impact — a move which was slammed by Pompeo during his remarks to the media on Sunday.

“You’ve seen that child-like map that Foreign Minister Zarif put out that contrasts with the excellence and professionalism of America’s military and intelligence services…(The maps) should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about where that unarmed vehicle was — it was flying in international airspace,” he said.