*Pompeo pushes for end to Gulf rift at start of Middle East trip
*There is no alternative other than resolving the Gulf disagreement: Kuwait FM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called for an end to a long-running row between a Saudi-led bloc of countries and neighbouring Qatar.
"It's not in the best interest of the region, it's not in the best interest of the world," the top US diplomat said in Kuwait, the first leg of a three-nation trip to the Middle East.
"We all have the same set of threats, the threats from al-Qaida and from [Islamic State], " he said at a press conference with Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah.
The US Secretary of State started an official visit to Kuwait on Tuesday, where he met with the Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. Pompeo is leading the US delegation for the third US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue meetings.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism, a charge that Doha has denied.
With the exception of Egypt, the countries embroiled in the row are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a US-allied grouping that also includes Kuwait and Oman. Efforts by the US and Kuwait to resolve the Gulf row have made no breakthrough.
But the Kuwaiti foreign minister pledged further efforts
to resolve the dispute, one of the most serious between members
of the GCC since it was created in 1981.
"There is no alternative other than completing the resolution of the Gulf disagreement," al-Khaled said .
Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled expressed Kuwait's appreciation for the US efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis and its full support to the mediation led by the Amir of Kuwait.
Pompeo had discussed the Gulf dispute at what he called an
"excellent" meeting with the Kuwaiti Amir .
They "agreed on the need for GCC unity to advance regional
prosperity, security, and stability, and to stand against the Iranian
regime's destabilising activity," Pompeo tweeted.
He renewed US commitment to Kuwait's security. His current trip is also taking him to Israel and Lebanon.
Pompeo reiterated that Kuwait was a "strategic partner", especially when it comes to counter-terrorism efforts, reaffirming the United States commitment to Kuwait's safety and sovereignty.
Pompeo said the discussion covered various aspects of bilateral relations including cyber security, fighting terrorism, trade, education.
Pompeo announced the signing of MoUs for investment promotion in the field of entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises.
Describing the Dialogue's agenda as "ample" with important issues, Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled noted that 23 government bodies with 70 high-level officials from both sides took part in the sessions. The officials specialised in various fields such as defence, security, economy, education, customs and civil aviation.
He said that the two sides held talks that discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations, the most important regional and international developments and issues of common concern.
"We trust our (American) friends in contributing ideas for the long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East, while taking into consideration the region's state of affairs and concerned parties," he said in response to a question about an anticipated US plan for the stalled Middle East peace process.