Hours after he was confirmed as Secretary of State this week, Mike Pompeo addressed NATO in Brussels and is also slated to visit key U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan on his first diplomatic trip. A few days earlier, the White House revealed photos of Pompeo meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as CIA chief. Arshad Mohammed of Reuters joins Alison Stewart with more.
To put all of this foreign policy news into perspective, I'm joined now from Washington by Reuters diplomatic correspondent Arshad Mohammed. Arshad, Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state 57 to 42 and just 12 hours and 34 minutes later, he was addressing NATO in Brussels. So what are we to take away from the speed of that? And what does that signal?
Well, a couple of things. One, he's hit the ground running. Two, when you look at secretaries of state, I always think about two things — one, to what extent do they have a relationship with the president and to what extent does the president actually delegated to them? And in this case, it seems fairly clear that Pompeo has a closer relationship to President Trump than his predecessor Rex Tillerson ever did. And secondly, Pompeo was the man who President Trump sent to North Korea to meet with the North Korean leader. So the president has already been delegating to him in his role as CIA director so he has at least a couple of the attributes that strong secretaries of state need.
Now there are reports the State Department is not what it once was in terms of staffing. Is there, is there any indication that he'll change that that he'll hire more?
So he's making all the right sounds. You're absolutely right. If you look at the half dozen key regional assistant secretaries, the people in charge of Africa or East Asia and the Pacific or the Near East, those jobs all have acting people in them. Five out of the six, excuse me, do. He said, that he wants to get his players out on the field that he wants to get more ambassadors out that he wants to get the top officials confirmed. The fundamental question here is to what extent will the White House let him select the people for these jobs, and to what extent will Congress actually pass them?
Secretary Pompeo slated to go to Saudi Arabia Israel and Jordan. How might this trip be different than that of say former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson?
You know, the fundamental difference I think is the extent to which the people that Secretary Pompeo deals with, believe he's speaking for President Trump. You know, it's an open question if anyone actually speaks for President Trump other than the president himself. You know, he said that in foreign policy his voice is the only one that counts. I do think, though that Pompeo had at least initially seemed to have a better shot at being taken seriously by his interlocutors because it's clear the president has a deeper relationship with him than than he ever seems to have had with Tillerson.
I want to check in on your thoughts on French President Emmanuel Macron's visit with President Trump in the United States this past week. There was a lot made of the style of the trip that they seem to have this "bromance." But what was the substance of their conversation? Because Macron seemed to really want to have some influence on President Trump's thoughts about Iran and climate change.
I mean one of the primary purposes of the trip was for President Macron to make the best case he could for the United States to stay in the in the Iran nuclear deal. And, you know, if you look very carefully at what Macron said it seemed to me he was doing two things — on the one hand, he was making the implicit case for the United States to stay in the deal, on the other hand, he was also kind of trying to lay the groundwork for if the United States pulls out and trying to keep some hope of diplomacy alive even if the president decides on May 12 not to stick with the deal. The day after his news conference with the president, he told a separate news conference that he wasn't so sure the president would stay stay in the deal and so I think this really was a two pronged effort to keep the United States in if he can, and try to limit the damage if if he cannot.
And finally German Chancellor Angela Merkel also met with President Trump and that relationship, let's say is not as warm as his relationship with President Macron. What was the objective of that meeting?
One was certainly the Iran deal that was expected to be a big part of those talks. Another was the possibility of trade sanctions against the European Union, particularly over steel and aluminum. And, if you look at the body language, it's a much less warm, friendly, engaged kind of relationship. And I didn't get the sense that she had any idea of whether the president what the president was going to do either on trade or on Iran.
Arshad Mohammed from Reuters. Thank you so much.
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