US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Brussels this week for meetings with NATO officials, the State Department said, in what is expected to be his last trip as the top diplomat of outgoing President Donald Trump.
During his trip, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, Pompeo will meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmès, the State Department said.
The visit follows the assault on the US Capitol last week in which thousands of Trump supporters stormed the building, forcing members of Congress who were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory into hiding. Five people died, including a police officer and a Trump supporter who was shot.
Stoltenberg called the scenes in Washington “shocking” and called for the outcome of the election to be respected.
Many other world leaders including those of top US allies such as the UK also expressed shock at the attack on the heart of American democracy.
“Secretary Pompeo will highlight the enduring importance of the Transatlantic partnership, champion NATO’s ongoing success in safeguarding the Transatlantic community and adapting to new security challenges, and reaffirm the strength of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Belgium,” the State Department said in a statement.
Trump had a shaky relationship with NATO, accusing his European allies of being “delinquent” in their support of the Western military alliance.
Pompeo, who is seen as having presidential ambitions for 2024, has been stepping up his work as the top US diplomat before his term ends on January 20.
On Monday, he called for state-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) to promote “American exceptionalism,” brushing aside complaints that he is trying to turn the government-funded broadcaster into a propaganda channel.
Pompeo delivered a live address at the headquarters of VOA, where the Trump administration has shaken up the leadership after saying that the taxpayer-funded outlet should promote its policies.
Pompeo claimed that until Trump became president, VOA’s broadcasts had “become less about telling the truth about America and too often about demeaning America.
As Pompeo and Trump implement their destructive agenda in the last days of this presidency, who do they coordinate with? Who manages to get on their schedules? Who travels to DC? https://t.co/FdYSqPx4tb
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) January 12, 2021
“We want to depoliticise what takes place here. It’s too important for the American people and for the world – returning this organisation to its charter and its charge to spread the message of freedom, democracy and American exceptionalism,” Pompeo said.
Despite his call against politicisation, he drew a parallel with Trump’s complaints about being removed from Facebook and Twitter. The social media platforms say the outgoing president incited violence at the US Capitol to overturn his election defeat.
“It all points in one direction – authoritarianism cloaked as moral righteousness,” Pompeo said.