MUNICH (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended on Saturday his nation’s global role despite misgivings in Europe, vowing that Western values would prevail over China’s desire for “empire”.
Pompeo was seeking to reassure Europeans troubled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, ambivalence over the transatlantic NATO military alliance and tariffs on European goods.
“I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly exaggerated. The West is winning, and we’re winning together,” he said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, listing U.S. steps to protect liberal democracies.
Pompeo was, in part, responding to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who on Friday accused the United States, Russia and China of stoking global mistrust.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as well as the Paris climate accord, have undermined European priorities, while moves such as recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have weakened European diplomacy, envoys say.
Pompeo defended the U.S. strategy, saying Europe, Japan and other American allies were united on China, Iran and Russia, despite “tactical differences.”
He reiterated Washington’s opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, a project backed by the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Citing Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, cyber threats in Iran and economic coercion by China, Pompeo said those countries were still “desiring empires” and destabilizing the rules-based international system.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, speaking immediately after Pompeo, focused his remarks solely on China, accusing Beijing of a “nefarious strategy” through telecommunications firm Huawei.
“It is essential that we as an international community wake up to the challenges presented by Chinese manipulation of the long-standing international rules-based order,” Esper said.
He said it was not too late for Britain, which last month said it would allow Huawei a limited role in building its 5G networks, to take “two steps back,” but added he still needed to asses London’s decision.
“We could have a win-win strategy if we just abide by the international rules that have been set in place for decades … that respect human rights, that respect sovereignty,” he said.
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