Pompeo arrives in France at the start of a difficult tour of Europe and the Middle East


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                Le secrétaire d'État américain Mike Pompeo est arrivé en France samedi au début d'une tournée de sept pays en Europe et au Moyen-Orient, un voyage qui ne manquera pas d'être gênant puisque tous les pays de son programme ont félicité Joe Biden pour sa victoire dans le Course présidentielle américaine alors que le haut diplomate américain n'a pas accepté les résultats du scrutin.

                                    <p>Dans un tweet d'arrivée publié samedi, Pompeo a souligné les «valeurs partagées: démocratie, liberté et État de droit» entre les États-Unis et la France.  «Les relations solides entre nos pays ne peuvent être surestimées et j'attends avec impatience mes discussions ici à Paris», a-t-il déclaré.</p>                <div id="em-WBMZ54425-F24-EN-20201114" class="m-em-flash">
                    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Super d'être en France, le plus vieil ami et allié des États-Unis.  Notre partenariat repose sur nos valeurs communes: démocratie, liberté et état de droit.  La relation solide entre nos pays ne peut être surestimée et j'attends avec impatience mes discussions ici à Paris. <a href="https://t.co/NMPa0aX7V0">pic.twitter.com/NMPa0aX7V0</a></p>- Secrétaire Pompeo (@SecPompeo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SecPompeo/status/1327515367074369536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">14 novembre 2020</a></blockquote>

<p>Le voyage de Pompeo vise à renforcer les priorités de l'administration sortante du président Donald Trump, notamment sa politique anti-chinoise et iranienne.  Il comprendra des visites dans les colonies israéliennes en Cisjordanie, évitées par les précédents secrétaires d'État.

But usual questions of American foreign policy risk being overshadowed by an extraordinary moment in world politics: As most countries of the world accepted the results of the November 3 presidential election, America’s top diplomat – thus that the US President and much of his Republican Party – did not.

Pompeo raised eyebrows last week when, in response to a reporter’s question about the transition process, the senior US diplomat replied, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. Days later, Pompeo tempered his remarks, noting that the State Department would be functional and successful with the president taking office on January 20, 2021.

France, along with Germany, the UK and other European countries, congratulated Biden over the weekend and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held his first phone conversation with the US president-elect.

Pompeo will see Macron on Monday at a meeting that will take place “with full transparency to President-elect Joe Biden’s team,” Macron’s office announced on Friday.

Tense relationship despite a first contact

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that there were “difficult topics” on the table, from the situation in Iraq and Iran, to terrorism, the Middle East and China.

Responding to a question about Trump’s announced plans to hasten a US withdrawal from Afghanistan in a television interview, Le Drian said, “We don’t think this should happen. We will also say that this should not happen in Iraq either. ”

For the past four years, Macron has had a strained relationship with Trump despite initial attempts to court himself with gestures of extravagance.

Shortly after Trump took office, Macron made the US president the guest of honor at a July 14 military parade. But Trump subsequently withdrew from the Paris global climate agreement, a blow to Macron.

The United States also walked out of the hard-won Iran nuclear deal, and Pompeo said in a tweet before leaving on the trip that “Iran’s destabilizing behavior” would be among the talking points.

The promotion of religious freedom and the fight against terrorism were also among the topics discussed during his trip.

Both questions are very relevant for France. There have been three terrorist attacks in recent weeks in France that have left four people dead, linked to recently republished cartoons of the Prophet of Islam. Anti-French protests have taken place in some Muslim countries after Macron insisted on his nation’s respect for freedom of expression, including the right to draw cartoons.



Tense relations with Turkey, the Palestinians

After France, Pompeo’s tour takes him to Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The leaders of all of those countries have publicly congratulated Biden.

Turkey, Georgia and Qatar have had difficult relations with the Trump administration, and it was not clear whether Pompeo was planning any public engagements with their leaders – or whether he would answer questions from the press, with whom he had a freezing relationship.

The administration’s relations with Turkey have been particularly strained following the NATO ally’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system, and Pompeo’s shutdown in Istanbul next week will not include meetings with Turkish officials. Instead, Pompeo will meet with religious leaders to highlight his promotion of religious freedom.

Palestinian officials, who have been snubbed by the Trump administration, have denounced Pompeo’s plans to visit the Psagot settlement in the West Bank. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh tweeted on Friday that it was a “dangerous precedent” that legalizes the settlements.

<p>Conformément au refus de Trump de concéder et aux ordres aux agences du Cabinet de ne pas coopérer avec l'équipe de transition de Biden, le département d'État n'a pas été impliqué dans la facilitation des appels de Biden aux dirigeants étrangers, selon des responsables familiers avec le processus.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Pompeo said he would continue as if there was no change.

“I am the secretary of state,” he said. “I get calls from all over the world. These people are watching our elections. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that it takes time.

Yet his French counterpart Le Drian looked to the future, asserting last Sunday in Cairo that “we are going to work with the new president of the United States and his team as part of a new transatlantic relationship, we will have to find that.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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