PARIS—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up the first leg of a seven-country tour in Paris on Monday by amplifying the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to push back against Iran, a centerpiece of what are likely to be the administration's final months.
The nation's top diplomat pressed international efforts to combat Iran and its support for regional terror groups like Hezbollah. As the secretary of state enters the second leg of his 10-day trip across the Middle East, Iran is expected to be a centerpiece of Pompeo's meetings with officials in the powerful Gulf Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
Pompeo also met privately with French president Emmanuel Macron, where the two discussed global security threats, including "efforts to counter violent extremism," according to a State Department official brief on the meeting. Iran's destabilizing behavior across the Middle East and the Tehran-funded terror group Hezbollah's "malign influence in Lebanon" also were addressed, according to the official.
The meeting, which Macron's office described as a "courtesy" to Pompeo, came after the French president congratulated former vice president Joe Biden for his win in the 2020 election—an outcome still disputed by the Trump administration.
While "there was not a lot of specific discussion about Iran," Pompeo and Macron discussed Iran's significant role in global terror and the ongoing unrest in Iraq that is "directly attributable of course to Iran," according to the official, who spoke only on background about the meetings.
Pompeo also expressed "profound condolences and shock" at the terror attacks in France during the chat.
Pompeo honored French victims of terror during a brief but somber ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides, a hospital and military museum that housed those injured during the most recent terror attacks in the country.
"Secretary Pompeo laid a wreath in remembrance of the victims of France's recent terrorist attacks," a State Department official told reporters, most of whom were not permitted to attend the ceremony due to severe coronavirus restrictions currently being enforced by the French government.
In Monday afternoon meetings with French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Pompeo "stressed the significance of political reconciliation in Libya" under a United Nations-led political process, according to principal deputy State Department spokesman Cale Brown. Pompeo and Le Drian also talked about the "Chinese Communist Party's malign activity in Europe and human-rights abuses in Xinjiang," both of which are a major diplomatic priority for the Trump administration in its final months.
The discussions about Beijing came just days after the Trump administration implemented a bevy of sanctions on companies tied to China's military-industrial network. The sanctions block Americans from owning stock in more than 30 companies the United States designated as fronts for China's military. It is unclear, however, how long these restrictions will remain in place, given team Biden's opposition to policies it views as meant to antagonize the Communist regime.
In Istanbul on Tuesday, Pompeo will meet with religious leaders amid Turkey's closely watched crackdown on Christians and other religious minority groups.