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New Secretary of State vows to 'listen' and 'learn' from staff

04 May, 2018, 10:06 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to staffers upon his arrival at the department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters on May 1

He became the U.S. secretary of state a month after the ouster of Rex Tillerson, the first incumbent in the Donald Trump presidency and he made it riding a close majority in the Senate voting, but Mike Pompeo seems to have an open field ahead.

While the secretary position is now filled, the State Department still has 75 positions without a nominee, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.

NANCY MCELDOWNEY: The fact that so many people were pushed out or encouraged to leave and then we saw an nearly 50 percent drop in the number of people taking the foreign service exam to come into the State Department, these will take years to overcome, these mistakes that were made by Rex Tillerson and I believe with Donald Trump's encouragement.

Trump for the first time publicly extolled "the extraordinary men and women of the State Department". We're in the beginning stages of the work and the outcome is certainly yet unknown.

Pompeo has "earned my deepest respect and admiration and trust, and you'll see why over the coming years - probably, over the coming months", Trump said. Administration officials are moving toward a possible Kim-Trump summit with their "eyes wide open", Pompeo said, adding that the only acceptable pact must be "permanent" and "verifiable" and implemented "without delay".

Also the new head of the state Department promised to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem - several years earlier than planned.

"You'll be doing things that you don't even know about", Trump said, "And we have a couple going, Mike, right now, that a lot of people don't know about that are very, very encouraging".

"That's more spirit than I've heard from the State Department in a long time", Trump said as he stepped to the podium.

When it was his turn to address the crowd on Wednesday, Pompeo spoke of the "truly humbling" honor of leading the State Department, praising career diplomats and agency personnel, whom he described as the "world's finest diplomatic corps".

Pompeo spoke of the threats posed by Iran and Russian Federation - as well as the economic threat posed by China - in his opening remarks.

On the issue of North Korea, Pompeo said the administration intends to change the course on the Korean Peninsula "once and for all".

Pompeo stated that Ukraine expected action, after which the government will be able to offer membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Pompeo is a West Point graduate who served as a cavalry officer along the Iron Curtain, and with the 2nd squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Army's 4th Infantry division before attending Harvard Law School, according to the State Department.

"I have a great deal to learn about the State Department and how we perform our mission", he said of the State Department, which has 74,000 employees, two-thirds of them working outside the United States.

The president hailed Pompeo's experience - as well as his own business school performance - while cryptically alluding to unspecified "things" the USA government is doing around the globe.


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