Pompeo spends 45 minutes with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia

The relationship between Riyadh and Washington remains tense following the brutal slaying and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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By Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince in Riyadh on Monday, but will cut short the rest of his Middle East trip to attend a family funeral.

The conflicts in Syria and Yemen, threats from Iran and the Saudi response to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year were among the issues expected to be discussed.

Pompeo spent 35 minutes with Saudi King Salman and 45 minutes with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the latest stop of his Middle East tour that has so far been dominated by questions and concerns about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

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In Riyadh, the Saudi-led fight against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, where the situation has been deemed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, was expected to be a major agenda item, as well as holding perpetrators accountable for Khashoggi's slaying.

Pompeo told the crown prince that his Middle East journey, which has taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, had been "good" so far.

"I want to talk to you about a couple of places we've been. We think we learned a lot along the way that will be important going forward," he said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh on Monday.Bandar Algaloud / EPA

The prince replied that the Saudis would "try to add more positivity, as much as we can."

Speaking with senior Saudi officials on his arrival in Riyadh late Sunday, Pompeo stressed the importance of supporting a political solution to end Yemen's civil war and "the need for continued regional efforts to stand against the Iranian regime's malign activity and to advance peace, prosperity, and security," the State Department said.

The department said Pompeo also made clear the importance of a credible investigation into Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October. Pompeo "emphasized the importance of Saudi Arabia continuing its investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in order to ascertain facts, assess information, and hold those responsible accountable."

The relationship between Riyadh and Washington remains tense following Khashoggi's brutal slaying and dismemberment at the consulate.

A CIA assessment has blamed the crown prince for ordering the killing of Khashoggi, a longtime royal insider who had become a critic, though Saudi officials deny the prince ordered the murder.

The killing has sparked the kingdom's worst political crisis in a generation, strained ties with Western allies including the U.S., and focused attention on the crown prince's domestic crackdown on dissent.

The State Department said Monday that Pompeo would cancel his planned final stop in Kuwait on Tuesday due a death in his family. He will still travel to Oman later Monday.

Reuters contributed.