The top US diplomat arrived in France on a difficult 7-nation tour

PARIS (AP) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Paris on Saturday, at the start of a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East, declaring the trip was incredible as all the countries on his schedule have congratulated Joe Biden. For his victory in the US presidential race.

The purpose of the trip is to address the priorities of President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration. It will include visits to Israeli settlements in the West Bank that have been avoided by previous state secretaries.

The top diplomats of the United States – as well as its president and most of his Republican Party – have not accepted the results of the American election, and unusual circumstances are likely to weigh on these issues.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday listed “difficult issues” from the situation in Iraq and Iran, terrorism, the Middle East and China.

“For the moment, my counterpart is Mike Pompeo, until January 20.” Le Drian said on BFMTV, referring to the date Trump’s term ends. “He is coming to Paris. I accept that. “

That meeting will take place on Monday, Le Drian said, suggesting that Pompeo will also meet with French President Emmanuel Macron. Paris is in the midst of a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the chorionavirus.

The French president, who spoke to Biden four days ago to congratulate him, has a tense relationship with Trump. The two leaders initially worked to provoke each other with extravagant gestures, such as making Maron Crown Trump the guest of honor at the Bastille Day military parade. Trump later pulled out of the Paris Global Climate Agreement, which hit Macron.

The United States also abandoned the hard-won Iran nuclear deal, and Pompeo said in a tweet before embarking on his trip that “Iran’s volatile behavior” would be a topic of discussion.

In a tweet arriving Saturday in France, Pompeo set standard diplomatic standards for his Paris talks, noting that France is “the oldest friend and ally” of the United States. He tweeted, “Strong ties between our countries cannot be overestimated.

Promoting religious freedom and countering terrorism were also among the topics on the table during his tour, he tweeted. Both issues are eager for France. There have been three terrorist attacks in France in recent weeks in which four people have been killed in connection with the recent re-release of the Prophet of Islam. After anti-France protests spread to some Muslim countries, Macron emphasized his country’s respect for freedom of expression, including the right to draw satirical pictures.

After France, Pompeo’s tour took him to Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Leaders of all those countries have publicly congratulated Biden.

On the French side, Turkey, Georgia and Qatar have different relations with the Trump administration, and it is not clear whether Pompeo plans a public engagement with their leaders – or whether he will take questions from the press with whom he has a cold relationship.

The administration’s relations with Turkey have been particularly strained since the purchase of NATO’s allied Russian missile defense system, and Pompeo’s meetings with Turkish officials in Istanbul next week will not be included. Instead, Pompeo will meet with religious leaders to highlight his promotion of religious freedom.

Palestinian officials, who have been stripped of their jobs by the Trump administration, have condemned plans to visit Pompeo’s Pasagot West Bank settlement. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shatayeh tweeted on Friday that this was a “dangerous precedent” for legalizing settlements.

Given Trump’s refusal to confess and orders to cabinet agencies not to cooperate with the Biden transition team, the state government is not involved in facilitating Biden’s calls to foreign leaders, according to officials familiar with the process.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Pompeo said he would move forward as if nothing had changed.

“I am the Secretary of State.” “I get calls from all over the world. These people are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time. “

Still, his French counterpart Le Drian is looking to the future, saying in Cairo last Sunday that “we will work with the new President of the United States and his team in the framework of a new trans-Atlantic relationship, we will need it again.” Got this. ”


Matthew Lee in Washington Washington contributed to this report.