THE US is calling on its allies to impose sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme as newly appointed US Secretary of State Milke Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia for a three-country visit to the Middle East, during which he is expected to tackle the threat of Iran.

The move comes after numerous countries in the region have been hit by missiles launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, including Saudi Arabia which reported that it shot down four missiles on Saturday morning.

Senior Policy Advisor to Mr Pompeo Brian Hook said: “We are urging nations around the world to sanction any individuals and entities associated with Iran’s missile programme and it has also been a big part of discussions with Europeans.”

He also noted that Iran’s missile programme would be a central point of discussion in talks on Sunday between Mr Pompeo and Saudi Arabian and Israeli leaders.

The Trump administration referred to the Iranian missile programme as a “priority threat that must be addressed” and an “international threat to peace and security”.

A State Department official also said: “Iran possesses the largest ballistic-missile arsenal in the region.

“Iran’s missiles prolong war and suffering in the Middle East.

“They threaten our security and economic interests and they especially threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“There is a growing international awareness of the need to impose costs on Iran’s missile programs and to do so urgently.”

Mr Pompeo’s discussions with Saudi Arabian leaders are vital as the country is seen as the chief rival to Iran in the region, and holds the ability to counter Tehran’s plans.

The chief diplomat will also call on the Saudi Arabian government to end their blockade with Qatar, as they believe this is benefitting Iran as much as hampering the small peninsular nation.

The State Department official said: “We see in the cleavage lines . . . room for Iran to play, and room for a less-than-maximally-effective effort against the other problems in the region, namely the fight against ISIS and violence of Sunni jihadism.”

This comes as the Trump administration is approaching the May 12 deadline on which it must decide whether it intends to extend waivers on Iranian sanctions which were suspended following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The US has also been negotiating with its allies to establish a supplementary agreement that would pressure Iran over issues including its missile programme.

Mr Pompeo is scheduled to meet Saudi Arabian leaders, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II.

However he is not scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas according to the State Department officials.

Source » express