Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Central Europe next week with the dual objective of strengthening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance with Russia and counteracting China’s influence in countries like Hungary.
In a telephone press conference, officials from the State Department explained that the United States is especially concerned about the power of the Chinese technological giant Huawei in Europe, especially in the center of the continent, where it has its “largest presence” outside of China. “What we are trying to do in Central Europe is to increase the diplomatic, commercial, military and cultural influence of the United States”.
Our view is that this was long overdue and necessary, “said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that the” lack of robust involvement of the United States during the last decade in Central Europe has created gaps. that have easily filled China and Russia.”
Pompeo’s official trip begins on February 11 in Budapest, where he will meet with the Hungarian prime minister, nationalist Viktor Orbán, and Defense Minister Tibor Benkö. This is the first visit by a head of US diplomacy to Hungary since the one made in 2011 by the then Foreign Minister, Hillary Clinton, and the objective will be to “counteract the Russian aggression” and strengthen the deterrent power of the NATO, to which Hungary belongs since 1999.
Donald Trump’s executive has maintained a good relationship with Orbán, who was the only head of government of the European Union (EU) who supported him during the campaign for the 2016 elections; although Washington does not approve of Budapest’s relationship with Russia and China. One of the US officials announced today that Pompeo “will speak with Prime Minister Orbán about the problem posed by his interactions” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition, in Hungary, Pompeo plans to “pay special attention” to China’s role in Central Europe and will express its “concern” about the “growing presence” in Hungary of Huawei, a company that Washington has accused of bank fraud for violating your sanctions against Iran. The second stop in Pompeo will be Bratislava, where he will meet on February 12 with the Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, and the prime minister, Peter Pellegrini.
According to US officials, the last time Bratislava received a secretary of state from the country was 20 years ago. The same day 12, Pompeo will move to Warsaw, where he will talk about energy with Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, and the United States will co-host a summit to promote “the future of peace and security in the Middle East”, which will be dominated for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmud Abbas, has said he will not attend that meeting because he believes that the United States does not have a credible role as mediator after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend. After Pompeo will travel to Brussels, where he plans to talk with the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, about the efforts of the United States to “restore democracy” in Venezuela, as well as his support for the head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself interim president of the country on January 23.
The EU, as an institution, has not recognized Guaidó as a leader and has promoted the creation of an International Contact Group, made up of European and Latin American countries. That Group met for the first time on February 7 in Montevideo and agreed to send a technical mission to Venezuela, as well as to convene a ministerial meeting in early March to analyze the development of the process.
According to US officials, the other issue that will focus the conversation between Pompeo and Mogherini will be Iran. Last year, Trump announced the exit of the United States from the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 with the Islamic Republic and has already reintroduced all the sanctions that were lifted after that pact, which the EU supports from the outside and has tried to save with the creation of a mechanism to favor trade with Iran.
Finally, on the 15th, Pompeo will travel to Reykjavik, where he will meet with the Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdóttir.