Pompeo meets NATO chief in first trip as U.S. secretary of state

Pompeo meets NATO chief in first trip as U.S. secretary of state

April 27 (UPI) — On his first official trip since becoming U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo traveled to Belgium Friday for talks with NATO allies.

The former CIA director met with NATO allies in Brussels for a summit at the alliance’s headquarters. He is also scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan in the coming days.

“No other secretary in recent history has gone on a trip as quickly as he has,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.

Pompeo was welcomed by NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, who congratulated the new U.S. diplomat.

“The work that’s being done here today is invaluable,” Pomepo said. “Our objectives are important, and this mission matters an awful lot to the United States of America and the president very much wanted me to get here.”

Pompeo and NATO leaders are expected to discuss Russian “aggression” in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria.

Pompeo might press NATO members to increase defense spending every year by 2024 — in accordance with President Donald Trump’s effort to get them to contribute more financially.

While in the Middle East, Pompeo will meet with King Salman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir, and later Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. In Jordan, he will meet King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Pompeo and Netanyahu are expected to discuss opening the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem next month, and shared concerns about Iranian influence in the region.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Pompeo Thursday by a vote of 57-42, formally replacing former diplomat Rex Tillerson.

Trump called Pompeo a “patriot” with “immense talent, energy, and intellect.” Many Democratic lawmakers opposed his nomination following Pompeo’s claims that he opposes same-sex marriage.

Sec State meets with representatives of the UK, France, and Germany at #NATO pic.twitter.com/PH5X0yQWo3- Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) April 27, 2018