Pompeo in Paris to meet with Macron on 1st leg of Middle East tour

Paris, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday is in Paris, with a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled for the first of the week to kick off the top US diplomat’s tour to several capitals in the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Pompeo, who is spending the weekend privately seeing the French capital with his wife, will meet at the Elysee Palace with Macron on Monday after on Nov. 10 the French leader, upon learning that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had won the US election, telephoned him to congratulate him and later released photos of the call, in which he assured Biden of French-US “common priorities.”

For the moment, however, Donald Trump is still the US president and international matters must be addressed with his administration raather than with the president-elect, as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made clear.

In a television interview on Friday, Le Drian insisted that “for now” Pompeo is his “counterpart,” and that will remain the case up until the transfer of power in the US on Jan. 20, 2021. Therefore, it is with him that he intends to discuss “many difficult issues,” such as the situation in Iraq and Iran, the fight against terrorism, the “difficulties” in the Middle East and relations with China.

In addition, the French minister said that there are certain messages that Paris wants to relay to Pompeo, including its insistence that Washington not accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq – as Trump has said he wants to do before he leaves office – given the risk of contributing to destabilization in those countries.

Washington said that on the list of topics Pompeo will discuss with French officials in Paris will be trans-Atlantic actions on economic and security questions, along with the fight against terrorism and other world threats.

Upon landing in Paris, Pompeo noted on his Twitter account that France is the oldest friend and ally of the US and that the two nations are united by a trans-Atlantic relationship built on the basis of the shared values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

From Paris, Pompeo will travel to Turkey, a country that currently has a very contentious relationship with France due to multiple sources of friction, the relationship even having degenerated so far as personal attacks on Macron by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

France has not hesitated to point out the paradox that a NATO ally and partner like Turkey is behaving in this way, and it would not be out of the question for the US secretary of state to try and reduce tensions in this area when speaking with French and Turkish officials.

From the US point of view, this would seem to be needed not only to preserve the integrity of the Atlantic Alliance, but also due to Ankara’s growing diplomatic weight in the Middle East, the Caucasus and North Africa.

Pompeo’s tour will then take him to the nation of Georgia, as well as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

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