US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on the first leg of a seven nation tour. France and the US are at loggerheads over the functioning of Nato.
The trip is the first leg of a seven day tour that will bring the US Secretary of State to Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
A press release of the US State Department says that Pompeo will discuss “transatlantic work, economic and security matters,” as well as “counterterrorism and global threats” in France.
The trip follows Macron’s congratulations of Joe Biden with his election victory. Trump and Pompeo never acknowledged a Biden victory, with Pompeo even going as far as promising, albeit jokingly, “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Earlier, Macron and Trump were at loggerheads over the functioning of Nato, with Macron calling the organization “brain dead” and lacking coordination.
Following his visit to Paris, he will meet with All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, “to discuss religious issues in Turkey” and to promote Washington’s “strong stance” on religious freedom in the world.
It is not clear from the State Department’s note if Pompeo will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey and France are facing an increasingly tense relationship over Turkey’s claims over gas fields in the Mediterranean and Erdoğan’s criticism of Macron’s viewpoints regarding Islam.
In Georgia, Pompeo will “express support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Two regions that officially belong to Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, are currently semi-independent under local governments that are supported by Moscow.
In Israel, Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the “Abraham Accords,” the collective agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations, signed in the White House in September. In the UAE he is expected to further solidify the Abraham accords.
In Qatar, home to the US Al Udeid air base, the biggest in the Middle East, Pompeo will meet with Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and discuss “the importance of Gulf unity.”
Qatar is still involved in a low-level conflict with fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others, which accuse Doha of ‘support to Islamist groups’ and spying. As the US has another major military base in Bahrein, home to the powerful US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Washington has no interest in a local confict.