The U.S. has a new Secretary of State. Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo has taken over, after being confirmed by the Senate.
He wasted no time in getting to work. CGTN’s Sean Callebs reports that Pompeo has already set-off to Europe for a series of meetings.
The newly-sworn in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is off and running. His first trip will take him to the NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels — From there, he goes to the Middle East –to sit down with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.
“The man has what it takes for the job,” said U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).
Despite the high praise from Cornyn, Pompeo was only approved by a 57-42 vote, with many Democrats digging in their heels, opposition Cornyn attributes to partisianship.
“It’s clear their ‘no’ vote is primarily a way to lash out at President Tump, because anyone President Trump chooses, they instinctively and reflexively, actively oppose,” said Cornyn.
Pompeo comes into the job with a full plate. He has important decisions to make on relations with China, the DPRK and the elevated tension on the Korean Peninsula. He will also counsel President Trump on whether U.S. troops should remain in Syria.
“I think the president has made it clear he wants to get out (of Syria),” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearings. “He does want to have fewer American men and women there than we had some period ago.”
Pompeo comes on board during a time of strained relations between the United States and Russia, amid allegations Moscow interfered with the 2016 presidential election, and debate in over whether full sanctions against Russia should be implemented. Pompeo comes down strongly on the side of the hard-liners.
“Vladimir Putin has not yet received the message sufficiently, and we need to continue to work on that,” Pompeo told senators.
But Democrats still openly wonder if Pompeo is qualified to be the top U.S. diplomat.
“At the end of the day, as I consider Director Pompeo’s nomination, including his hearings, his past statements and recent revelations, I have lingering concerns,” said Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez.
Pompeo has urged the U.S. to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Accord. He also has alleged that American Muslims are “potentially complicit” in terrorism.
He will be tackling these problems with a State Department mired in low morale and seeking direction. Many of the top staff positions remain unfilled, as do dozens of ambassador positions around the world.
Expect the 74,000 person State Department to closely watch his moves, as they try to gauge what kind of leader Pompeo will be.