U.S. Said to Meet Saudi Leaders to Discuss Iran Oil Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. government teams spent three days in Saudi Arabia discussing ways to cut off money flows to Iran without disrupting energy markets as Washington presses nations to stop buying Iranian oil by Nov. 4, a senior State Department official said.

Envoys from the State and Treasury departments and several Saudi ministries weighed measures to ensure oil markets have sufficient supply after the deadline, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing private talks. The U.S. is working with nations including Saudi Arabia to make sure oil markets are well-supplied, the official said.

The discussions were part of the U.S. strategy to isolate Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May. The U.S. has promised to bring back sanctions on Iran’s oil sector -– and punish any country that buys its oil -- by Nov. 4.

The U.S. and Saudi officials also examined new ways to make Iran pay for what the U.S. says is its “malign behavior’’ in the region – such as supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and funding terrorist groups.

The U.S. bid to muster European support for measures against Iran will be a key task for Secretary of State Michael Pompeo as he spends two days in Brussels with Trump at the NATO summit.

During the summit beginning on Wednesday, Pompeo will meet with counterparts from the U.K., France and Germany, other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal that have opposed the U.S. pullout. He’ll ask their support for pursuing a broader deal limiting not only Iran’s nuclear program, but also its ballistic missile development, backing for Yemen rebels and terrorism financing.

Pompeo is joined in Brussels by Brian Hook, the State Department director of policy planning who helped lead the discussions in Saudi Arabia. Hook plans to meet with political directors from the U.K., Germany and France during Pompeo’s stay.

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