Macron hosts Trump loyalist Pompeo after congratulating Biden

Macron Hosts Trump Loyalist Pompeo After Congratulating Biden Macron Hosts Trump Loyalist Pompeo After Congratulating Biden
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, right, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron has held a closed-door, low-key meeting with US President Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

The zero fanfare welcome for Mike Pompeo, a loyalist of Mr Trump, at the presidential Elysee Palace was in itself indicative of how Mr Macron’s government is already looking ahead to the era of US President-elect Joe Biden.

No press conferences were held, depriving journalists of an opportunity to ask Mr Macron’s office, his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian or Mr Pompeo about whether they discussed their conflicting interpretations of the US election result. Unusually, Mr Le Drian met Mr Pompeo at the Elysee Palace, rather than his own office.

Mr Macron’s office described Mr Pompeo’s stop as a “courtesy” visit.

The US State Department said Mr Pompeo and Mr Macron “discussed ”significant threats to global security, efforts to counter violent extremism, Iran’s destabilising behaviour, and Hezbollah’s malign influence in Lebanon”. It said Mr Pompeo had also stressed the importance of transatlantic alliance, Nato unity and countering China’s increasing global influence.

Mr Pompeo tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Stars and Stripes face mask in the meeting with “my good friend” Mr Le Drian and said they had an “important discussion”.

“There is no challenge we cannot conquer when the US-France Transatlantic relationship is strong,” he tweeted.

The State Department said Mr Pompeo and Mr Le Drian had covered a range of topics, including Nato, stabilisation efforts for Libya and Africa’s Sahel region and what a statement described as “our strong alliance in countering the Chinese Communist Party’s malign activity in Europe”.

Still, it was not clear why Mr Pompeo came so far in the midst of the pandemic and for so long, on a three-day stop in Paris that is largely locked down because of a surge of coronavirus cases, for such a low-visibility outcome.

Officials in Mr Pompeo’s team said French authorities told them that no press access was possible due to concerns over the pandemic.

Mr Pompeo appeared last week to cast doubt on Mr Trump’s election defeat, speaking instead of “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”.

Mr Macron last week spoke by phone with Mr Biden to congratulate him.

Before meeting Mr Macron and Mr Le Drian, Mr Pompeo laid a bouquet of red, white and blue flowers at a memorial to victims of terrorism at a Paris landmark, the Hotel des Invalides.

The ceremony lasted about a minute.

“The United States stands with France. We mourn the victims, pray for their families, and condemn in the strongest terms these senseless attacks against innocent French citizens,” Mr Pompeo tweeted.

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