12:46 GMT +319 June 2019
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    Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md.

    Trump Advisor Bolton Says Groundwork Being Laid for Anti-Iranian 'Arab NATO'

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    Last month, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said that Gulf states were continuing negotiations with Washington on the creation of a regional security alliance directed against Iran, despite earlier fears that the proposed pact may have been scrapped after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in October.

    The White House remains committed to the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated.

    "The White House is laying the ground work for a Middle East Strategic Alliance," Bolton tweeted, thanking the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as Egypt and Jordan, "for standing together as we pursue a more vibrant and secure Middle East."

    Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived for an eight day tour of the Middle East on Wednesday, and are expected to visit eight countries to meet with regional leaders in this time.

    Earlier, responding to Bolton and Pompeo's heavy focus on Iran in their recent statements, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif compared the pair to "persistently failing psychotic stalkers" engaged in "Iran-obsession" in place of real diplomacy.

    President Trump revived the Obama-era concept of an anti-Iranian alliance of Gulf state nations in 2017 in a bid to stop what Washington and its regional allies have described as Iran's "malign activities" in the region. Late last year, Pompeo met with Qatari officials to try to smooth out tensions between Doha and Saudi Arabia in order to move forward with the alliance idea. US and Gulf state leaders have met several times to push the MESA concept forward. 

    The traditional bilateral strategic alliance between Washington and Riyadh suffered a blow last October following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor who expressed criticism of the Saudi monarchy. Congressional leaders have called on Washington to condemn the killing, with some calling for sanctions. President Trump, however, has indicated that he is not willing to risk US-Saudi ties, including the Kingdom's purchase of tens of billions of dollars' worth of US arms, over the incident.

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    Tags:
    'Arab NATO', Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), John Bolton, Iran, Middle East, United States
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