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Pompeo to push for end to Gulf dispute during Qatar

AFP  |  Doha 

US arrived in on Sunday pushing for an end to a diplomatic rift between Washington's Gulf allies on the latest leg of his tour.

The top US diplomat's visit to the small, energy-rich Gulf state comes amid a more than 18-month-old dispute pitting and its allies against

"It is time for old rivalries to end for the sake of the greater good of the region," said on Thursday in Cairo, where he laid out the strategy of US Donald Trump's adminstration.

The travelled to from Abu Dhabi, where he met with Crown on Saturday.

is later expected to head to Riyadh, where all eyes will be on a possible meeting with Crown

The visit comes just three months after the murder of Saudi in his country's

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and -- all US allies -- cut ties with in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival

-- also a US ally -- denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

Washington, which at first appeared to back the boycott, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to get the countries to set aside their differences in order to focus on Washington's regional priority -- the fight against

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US -- who quit because of an apparent "lack of will" on behalf of "regional leaders" for regional reconciliation.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as and

"Today, we ask each of those countries to take the next step and help us solidify MESA," Pompeo said in

But the task is not going to be easy.

"It is complicated to put together, make no mistake about it, because we're talking about a complex agreement among a number of nations where we're asking for significant commitments from them," Pompeo told reporters in on Saturday.

"But I believe that there is a path forward where there's a set of common understandings."

In Doha, Pompeo is expected to meet with several senior government leaders, including Qatari Sheikh

The two are expected to hold a joint press conference on Sunday.

Qatar's relationship with is complicated as it shares the world's largest field with

Gas has been responsible for transforming Qatar into one of the richest countries in the world, since it first began exporting liquefied little more than 20 years ago.

It has also agreed to increase since the beginning of the crisis.

Washington's call for regional unity is clouded by its relations with since the murder of Khashoggi in early October.

During Pompeo's previous visit to at the height of the Khashoggi affair, his broad smiles with the crown had outraged some Americans.

Trump has said he wants to preserve the alliance with the Saudi kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

"We will continue to work to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of are accountable," Pompeo said Friday on

He reaffirmed that US-Saudi relations remain "incredibly important to Americans".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 13 2019. 16:05 IST