US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends NATO meeting of foreign ministers

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From L to R: Turkey’s Foreign Affairs minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson share a laugh before the opening of a Foreign ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 27 2018. [AFP Photo: John Thys]

Newly minted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went straight off a plane and right down to business. Pompeo attended a meeting of the 29 NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, for his first official day on the job.

CGTN’s Jack Parrock reports.

Follow Jack Parrock on Twitter @jackeparrock

“I did come straight away. I was sworn in yesterday afternoon, hopped on a plane and came straight here,” Pompeo said. “There’s good reason for that. The work that’s being done here today is invaluable, our objectives are important, and this mission matters an awful lot to the United States of America.”

Pompeo’s positive tone was likely just what NATO leadership wanted to hear. U.S. President Trump has regularly criticized the alliance, and at one time even called it obsolete.

The secretary of state has already started pressing his NATO counterparts to raise their military spending. It has been the job of the many secretary of states before him. The U.S. constantly presses its European allies, in order to reach the 2 percent of GDP target set four years ago.

Pompeo also told NATO ally Turkey that Washington was concerned at Ankara’s buying of an advanced, S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia. These missiles aren’t compatible with other NATO systems. Turkey is reported to have no intention of turning its back on the $2.5-billion deal for the S-400s, which it made at the end of last year.

The NATO leaders also focused on NATO’s strained relations with Russia over the suspected, nerve agent attacks of the recent months.

This meeting will be the last-ever to take place in the current NATO headquarters in Brussels. It was supposed to be temporary, but has housed the alliance for 51 years. Headquarters will be moving across the road to its new building.