U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he is leaving for Middle East to meet allies in the region to form a “global coalition” against Iran.
Pompeo’s visit comes only days after U.S. and Iran came to the brink of war last week after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz and U.S. President Donald Trump changed his mind to strike Iran in the last minute because it wouldn’t be a “proportionate” response.
Pompeo’s urgent consultations in the Middle East, apparently not planned in advance, will start in Saudi Arabia and continue in the United Arab Emirates.
“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, ” Pompeo said about Iran right before he left Washington.
Pompeo also mentioned that the Trump administration is ready for negotiations with Iran.
“They know precisely how to find us,” Pompeo said, addressing Iranian leaders.
Pompeo will go to India after his Middle East tour and then will meet Trump in Japan and South Korea later in the week.
Tensions have been rising between the U.S. and Iran since May 2018 when Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.
The U.S. has since embarked upon a diplomatic and economic campaign to ramp up pressure on Iran to force it to renegotiate the agreement.
Part of its campaign has included the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which has sent the Iranian economy into a nosedive.
The U.S. has also increased its military presence in the Middle East, deploying a carrier strike force, bomber task force and Patriot missile battery and using threats from Iran as justification for the actions.
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration announced it would be sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East, citing increased threats from Iran.