Pompeo Says He Pressed Saudi Leader on War and Rights Abuses


Mr. Pompeo said he had spoken to Prince Mohammed about concerns over the imprisonment of women’s rights activists. “Their commitment was that the process, the lawful judicial process here, would take place,” he said. “They understand the concerns that some have.”But many of the most prominent activists being held have not been charged with any crimes, making it unclear what process Mr. Pompeo was referring to. Critics also question the independence of the judiciary in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s few absolute monarchies, where few trials are open to the public or the news media.Amid the growing criticism of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump has voiced his backing of Prince Mohammed, 33, who has secured power in the kingdom by ousting his rivals, including detaining other members of the royal family in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.But many other American officials, including in the State Department, Pentagon, C.I.A. and Congress, have been more circumspect and increasingly view the prince as an unreliable partner.The visit with Prince Mohammed on Monday was the first for Mr. Pompeo since an emergency trip in October, as the diplomatic crisis over the murder of Mr. Khashoggi was ballooning. In his previous visit, Mr. Pompeo flew to Riyadh and posed for photographs in which he shook hands with the prince and smiled, drawing intense criticism for the images of bonhomie.Since then, Mr. Pompeo has had regular calls with the prince, said a former American official.Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit team while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, Turkish officials have said. The C.I.A. assessed that Prince Mohammed had ordered the killing.President Trump has declined to endorse that finding and has said the United States would continue its relationship with Saudi Arabia and with the prince, who is close to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and main Middle East adviser.