Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Paris on Saturday morning for the first leg of a seven-country tour. Over the next ten days, Pompeo will visit France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo’s travel comes as foreign leaders are beginning to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede. Mr. Biden has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron, and the leaders of the countries Pompeo is visiting have congratulated the president-elect.
“Is the State Department currently preparing to engage with the Biden transition team, and if not, at what point does it hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security,” a reporter asked during a news conference Tuesday at the department.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo responded. “The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today, and successful with the president who’s in office on January 20th, a minute after noon, will also be successful.”
Pompeo arrived to a France in lockdown to fight a second wave of the coronavirus. In contrast to the few people seated around him, he did not wear a mask.
For the outgoing secretary of state and the French officials, Monday’s meetings will be a delicate demarche on tough issues.
”For the moment, my counterpart is Mike Pompeo, until Jan. 20…,” Le Drian said Friday on French network BFMTV, referring to the date when Trump’s term ends. “He’s coming to Paris. I receive him.”
Le Drian noted the “difficult subjects” on the table, from the situation in Iraq and Iran to the Middle East and China.