Pompeo defends ‘muscular’ US diplomacy on North Korea and Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is sworn in at the State Department in Washington.

:: New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday defended the “muscular diplomacy” practiced by President Donald Trump as a way to solve thorny global issues “peacefully, without ever firing a shot.”

Speaking before of a group of American diplomats at the State Department, Pompeo outlined his vision for US foreign policy at a time of “many challenges.”

“These times are turbulent. The demands are for strong leadership. It is essential that our team does that, and counter the threats that we face with courage and strength,” he said.

“Fortunately, we have a president who believes in muscular diplomacy as well, one that makes full use of the instruments of national power to advance, first and foremost, vital American interests and values.”

The hawkish Pompeo had promised a more “vicious” intelligence operation when he took over as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency last year, making unapologetically menacing statements toward North Korea and Iran.

On Friday, he explained his view that a firm diplomatic hand “increases our chances of solving problems peacefully without ever firing a shot.”

As an example, he cited the “enormous diplomatic effort to continue to keep the pressure on North Korea and bring them to the negotiating table, to a place where we can successfully eliminate the threat from Kim Jong Un’s nuclear arsenal.”

Pompeo met Kim over Easter weekend in Pyongyang, ahead of an expected summit between the North Korean leader and Trump, who said Friday that a date and location would be announced soon.

In the Middle East, where Pompeo traveled on his first trip abroad, he said “strong diplomatic efforts” were needed “to prevent Iran’s destabilizing behavior in Syria, in Yemen, and across the region.”

In a week, Trump is expected to decide whether the US should remain in the nuclear deal reached with Tehran. The Republican leader has threatened to withdraw from the multinational accord.

“These are all great challenges, but I’m confident that our team can develop strategies and diplomatic footprints capable of resolving them,” Pompeo said.

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