US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Paris on Saturday. Pompeo is on a seven-country tour of Europe and the Middle East, a trip that is certain to be awkward since all the nations on his schedule have congratulated Joe Biden for his victory in the US presidential race.
The trip is aimed at shoring up priorities of the outgoing Trump administration. It is noteworthy, that Pompeo will also be visiting Israeli settlements in West Bank, becoming the first US secretary to do so.
The United States' top diplomat - as well as its president and much of his Republican Party - have not accepted the results of the US election, and the unusual circumstances will likely overshadow key issues.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian noted on Friday the “difficult subjects” were on the table, including the situation in Iraq and Iran, terrorism, the Middle East and China. ”At the moment, my counterpart is Mike Pompeo, until January 20…,” Le Drian said on BFMTV, referring to the date when Trump's term ends. “He's coming to Paris. I will receive him,” he added. The meeting will take place on Monday, Le Drian said, suggesting that Pompeo also will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The French president, who spoke with Biden four days ago to offer congratulations, has had a tense relationship with Trump. Both leaders initially worked to woo each other with gestures of extravagance, such as Macron making Trump the guest of honour at a Bastille Day military parade. However, in a blow to Macron, Trump later pulled out of the Paris global climate accord.
After France, Pompeo will be visiting Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The leaders of all of these countries have offered public congratulations to Biden.
Beside France, Turkey, Georgia and Qatar have had fractious relationships with the Trump administration, and it was not clear whether Pompeo planned public engagements with their leaders or whether he would take questions from the press, with whom he has had a frosty relationship.