Pompeo Confirmed US Secretary of State, Begins Middle East Trip

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He inherits a State Department that has lost relevance under Trump and a diplomatic corps deeply dispirited by the tenure of Tillerson, who pushed budget and staff cuts and eschewed public appearances while leaving key diplomatic positions unfilled.

In Brussels, Pompeo will attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers summit and meet with the top diplomats from Turkey and Italy.

"No other Secretary in recent history has gone on a trip as quickly as he has", Nauert noted just before Pompeo boarded his flight to applause from State Department staffers.

Iran is likely to be on the agenda on the Middle East leg of his trip. In the North Korean capital he met Kim ahead of the planned meeting with Trump, expected in late May or June. "As a former lawmaker, Mr. Pompeo has engaged with constituents representing many segments of our industry, and supported issues of importance to the US travel community, including expansion and security enhancements to the critically important US Visa Waiver Program", the association said.

Mike Pompeo took over as America's top diplomat Thursday after being confirmed by the Senate and sworn in across the street minutes later. No Republican voted no.

Soon after Pompeo was confirmed, Richard Grenell was confirmed as ambassador to Germany, a day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to arrive in Washington to meet with Trump.

Trump says, "Having a patriot of Mike's enormous talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history".

Mr Pompeo was appointed US Secretary of State yesterday, filling a seat that has been vacating since March, when Mr Trump sacked Rex Tillerson.

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Pompeo, who became one of Trump's closest advisers while at the Central Intelligence Agency, faced stiff opposition from Democrats, who anxious he might be too closely aligned with the president. A staunch Iran critic, Pompeo has long deplored the 2015 nuclear accord but has supported Trump's efforts to get European allies to strengthen restrictions on Iran. He has always been a critic of the deal, and suggested that the "only answer" is "2,000 bombing sorties".

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Democrat, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, said he doubted Pompeo "would be willing to push back against the president's worst instincts" on world affairs.

Democrats challenged Pompeo on his hawkish views in a confirmation hearing earlier this month. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first woman to hold the post.

The State Department immediately announced Pompeo would lead the U.S. delegation to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign minister talks in Brussels on Friday, and follow that with stops in Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

None of the 10 Democrats on the 21-member committee supported him.

The vote was 56-42, and comes after Trump complained that Senate Democrats were holding up his nominees.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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