US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt have met in Washington, DC, to discuss the “threat” posed by Russia and Iran’s influence in the Middle East region.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Pompeo and Hunt “discussed a number of global issues, including the ongoing threat posed by Russia’s dangerous and destabilizing activity and Iran’s malign behavior,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
The US and its allies have long criticized Iran and Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his ongoing fight against the Daesh terrorist group and other foreign-backed militants.
Washington has also claimed that Iran has been providing Yemen’s resistance forces with long-range missiles to retaliate a deadly military aggression by Saudi Arabia and other major US allies in the Middle East. Both Iran and Yemen have denied the claims.
No differences of opinion in dealing with Russia
Moscow drew fire from Washington after accepting Assad’s request to pound terrorist positions in an aerial campaign that began in 2015.
This campaign ran parallel to a similar airstrike campaign by the US and its allies, which began a year earlier but failed to yield any meaningful results.
Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated over the poisoning of Sergey Skripal, a former Russian double agent in Britain, earlier this year. Moscow and London have been trading accusations of involvement in the attack, which the British government claims was carried out by Russian agents who used the Novichok nerve agent.
Following the non-fatal incident, the UK and over two dozen Western countries, including the US, expelled large numbers of Russian diplomats.
Russia firmly denied any involvement in the case, and expelled an equal number of foreign diplomats in response.
After their meeting, Pompeo and Hunt met US diplomats expelled by Russia and thanked them.
The two officials also addressed the issue of trade, one of the UK’s main concerns as it prepares to leave the European Union (EU). US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have pledged a “tremendous deal” on trade after Brexit.
UK not in favor of Trump’s approach to Iran
While London and Washington enjoy a certain harmony in their policies against Russia, demonstrated by the Trump administration’s recent sanctions against Moscow over the Skripal case, the two allies seem to have big differences of opinion when it comes to dealing with Iran.
Trump let down London and several other key US allies when he went against their advice and announced on May 3 his decision to quit the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
He also urged the remaining signatories — the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany — to end trade ties with Iran before all anti-Iran sanctions removed under the accord were reinstated.
Despite Trump’s insistence on punishing companies that violate those bans, all other signatories have expressed support for the deal.
On Tuesday, Hunt once again defended Britain’s support for the Iran deal during his first trip to Washington.
“We do have a genuine difference of opinion because we think the best way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to stick with the nuclear deal,” Hunt said at a conference at the United States Institute of Peace. “The administration has a different view.”
Trump thinks that the JCPOA is flawed, in that it fails to address Iran’s regional influence.