Middle East

US seeks to build 'global coalition' against Iran after downing of American drone

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants to use his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to build an alliance against Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is en route to the Middle East for urgent crisis talks sparked by Iran's downing of an American drone.

Speaking to reporters as he left Washington, Pompeo called Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates "great allies in the challenge that Iran presents."

"We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media before boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media before boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia.
AP

Tensions have been mounting between the US and Iran since Trump last year withdrew the US from a global nuclear deal with Iran and also announced economic sanctions.

A fresh round of Iran sanctions is to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks.

Pompeo said he would stop in the two countries on his way to India, where he begins a visit on Tuesday.

Trump threatens 'proportionate' retaliatory military strike

Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone last week, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a claim the United States denies.

US President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been "proportionate," with Tehran warning any attack would see Washington's interests across the Middle East go up in flames.

Pompeo denounced a map that was released by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that purported to show a spy drone encroaching its airspace in late May and urged media not to find it credible.

"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," Pompeo said.

Pompeo said that Iran's map "should leave no doubt in anyone's mind about where that unarmed vehicle was - it was flying in international airspace."

"We shouldn't let the Iranians have one moment where any reporter would write that there is even a credible response to the data set that the Americans have put forward," he said, accusing Iran of "sowing disinformation in lots of lots of places."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
AP

US prepared to negotiate with Iran

ut Pompeo reiterated Trump's offer of dialogue to improve relations with Iran, which the US administration has sought to isolate through harsh sanctions.

"We're prepared to negotiate with no preconditions. They know precisely how to find us," Pompeo said.

"And I am confident that at the very moment they're ready to truly engage with us, we will able to begin this conversation," he said.

"I'm looking forward to the day."

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