Politico: Mike Pompeo is heading for the EU's eastern fringe — on a mission to make sure it's looking west11 February 2019 | 10:45 | FOCUS News Agency
That's how senior administration officials present the secretary of state's upcoming visits to Hungary, Slovakia and Poland — as a chance to counter growing Russian and Chinese influence in areas as diverse as energy and technology, Politico reported.
But his host governments, facing accusations at home and abroad of backsliding on democracy and the rule of law, have seized on the trip to brand it as a seal of approval from Washington.
If he wants to avoid further alienating Western European allies frustrated and bewildered by the Trump administration's foreign policy, Pompeo will have to strike a balance between praising his hosts and addressing the concerns of their critics.
Both Budapest and Warsaw are the subject of EU disciplinary proceedings, charged with putting the bloc's fundamental values at risk, while Bratislava's reputation has been badly tarnished by the murder of a journalist investigating mafia links that appear to reach into the heart of government.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press about his trip to Saudi Arabia after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the West Wing | Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Pompeo visits Hungary on Monday before traveling on Tuesday to Slovakia and then Poland, where he will co-host a conference on security in the Middle Eastwith the Polish government.
A senior U.S. administration official, briefing reporters ahead of the trip, said a lack of American engagement in the region in recent years has created a vacuum.
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