.
.
.
.

Pompeo to visit Riyadh and other cities; Iran deal will be significant agenda

Published: Updated:

New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to travel to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel over the weekend after a stop in Brussels for a NATO meeting, the State Department said on Thursday.

"No other secretary in recent history has gone on a trip as quickly as he has,” department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday and sworn in shortly afterward.

The State Department said no secretary of state had ever traveled abroad so soon after being confirmed. Originally, Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, who had been filling in as secretary since Tillerson departed, had planned to make the trip. With Pompeo’s confirmation imminent, the plane was held on the tarmac until Pompeo could arrive and swap in, according to AP.

In Brussels, Pompeo will attend a NATO foreign ministers summit and meet with the top diplomats from Turkey and Italy. (What if Pompeo’s appointment is also about EU, not just Iran?)

Pompeo planned to keep up pressure on NATO’s European members, particularly Germany, to live up to their past pledges to boost their defense spending.

From there, the State Department said Pompeo planned to fly to the Middle East for stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, where the future of the Iran deal and the conflict in Syria will be significant agenda items.(Will Pompeo beat the drums of war against Iran?)

Pompeo will arrive in the region ahead of a series of events that could potentially plunge it into deeper disarray, including the Iran deal decision and the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.