Pompeo Starts Mideast Tour to Ramp Up Pressure on Iran

Trip comes amid confusion over conflicting Trump administration statements about a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks with the press on as he flies to the Middle East on January 7, 2019.
AFP

UPDATE: Erdogan rejects Bolton's demand to protect Kurdish fighters, blasts U.S. for double-speak on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has begun a Mideast visit to talk to regional leaders about ramping up pressure on Iran.

The trip comes amid confusion over conflicting Trump administration statements about a planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria.

Pompeo's first stop on Tuesday is pro-Western Jordan, followed by visits to Egypt and Gulf nations.

He told reporters he plans to talk to allies about "modalities by which we may continue to apply pressure" on Iran, branded by Washington a sponsor of terrorism.

Pompeo will likely face questions about last month's surprise announcement that U.S. troops would soon leave northeastern Syria, where they help battle remnants of the Islamic State group.

He didn't give a timeline. Asked about confusion among allies, he said: "I've actually spoken to them all.