In Brussels, Pompeo calls for ‘principled realism’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event at the Concert Noble in Brussel in Brussels, Belgium, 04 December 2018. [EPA-EFE/FRANCISCO SECO]

Under President Trump, Washington is not abandoning international leadership or its friends in the international system, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told diplomats in Brussels on Tuesday (4 December).

Addressing an event organised by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, Pompeo explained that Trump is merely seeking to build a new liberal world order upheld by American leadership and democracy. But he also lashed out against international institutions and said they needed to change.

“We are acting to preserve, protect and advance an open, just, transparent and free world of sovereign states. This project will require actual, not pretend, restoration of the liberal order among nations. It will require an assertive America and leadership from not only my country but of democracies around the world,” Pompeo said.

In his speech, Pompeo criticised Iran, China and Russia for creating instability in the world and violating numerous treaties and multistate agreements.

EU mechanism for Iran trade to be symbolically ready on 4 November

A new European Union mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian exports should be legally in place by 4 November, when the next phase of US sanctions hit, but will not be operational until early next year, three diplomats said.

However, he rejected suggestions that Washington itself was acting unilaterally on key international issues  and questioning the belief that “every kind of multilateral action would be by definition desirable.”

In the past, “multilateralism has too often become an end to itself” as there was the notion that “the more treaties we sign, the safer we are, the more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done,” Pompeo said, questioning the effectiveness of the UN and other organisations.

While emphasising the EU’s success in ensuring prosperity for the entire continent, Pompeo asked: “Brexit was a political wake-up call. Is the EU ensuring that the EU puts interests of its citizens before those of bureaucrats here in Brussels?”

He also said the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank have become decayed and although “each of them is worth preserving”, they are in need of change.

EU finance ministers struggle for eurozone reform deal

EU finance ministers struggled to agree reforms to better fight against a financial crisis early Tuesday (4 December), with negotiators still at the table after more than 12 hours of talks.

Pompeo spoke on the eve of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, where he will probably back President Trump’s accusations that European allies are not spending enough on their own defence and relying too much on Washington to foot the bill for Europe’s security.

A State Department statement before the visit said that Pompeo would “renew our call that Allies shoulder a fair share of the burden of responsibility to protect against common threats.”

“This means living up to the pledge that all Allies made in 2014 and reaffirmed at the 2018 Brussels Summit to spend 2% of their GDP on defence by 2024 and to invest 20% of that in major equipment,” it added.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron renewed his pledge for “a real European army” to protect the Europeans from “Russia, China and even the United States.” President Trump dismissed it as “very insulting” and responded on Twitter: “But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidises greatly!”

“Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty for many years,” Pompeo said during his foreign policy statement, adding that he would elaborate on the alleged Russian violations at the NATO meeting later in the evening.

At NATO’s ministerial, however, the issue of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) will be high on the agenda after Trump announced in October that he would pull out of the INF.

Allies will urge the US to re-think its decision to withdraw from the accord with Moscow, and press Washington to join efforts aimed at bringing Russia into compliance with the arms control treaty, NATO officials said ahead of the meeting.

According to EU diplomats, however, it is possible that during the NATO meeting the US might signal to its allies that a formal withdrawal process from the INF could be postponed “for several months”.

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