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Pompeo arrives in Paris, kicking off 7-country tour

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statemment during a joint press briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August. Pompeo is planning to visit Israel again this month. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statemment during a joint press briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August. Pompeo is planning to visit Israel again this month. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Paris Saturday for the first stop on a planned seven-country tour.

Earlier this week the State Department announced that Pompeo would visit France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He's expected to return to the United States on Nov. 23.

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Among the planned stops is the West Bank settlement. He'll be the first Secretary of State to visit one of the Israeli outposts considered illegal under international law.

Pompeo is expected to discuss religious freedom with the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but neither the country's president nor its foreign minister are making plans to meet with him. The foreign ministry, instead issued a statement saying that "it would be more suitable for the US to first look in the mirror and show the requisite sensitivity towards human rights violations in the country such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes."

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He's also expected to discuss the importance of free and fair elections in Georgia, even as his boss continues to contest results placing President-Elect Joe Biden well above the number of electoral votes needed for victory.

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Multiple foreign leaders, including those in the countries Pompeo is visiting, have extended their congratulations to Biden.

But President Donald Trump has refused to concede, and Pompeo said Tuesday that there would be "a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

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Later that day, Pompeo appeared to walk that back, saying, "Our adversaries should know that we're ready, we're continuing to work, we'll work all the way through January. And then on January 20th, we'll have a transition, whether it's to a Trump administration - a second Trump administration as I spoke about today - or to an administration led by former Vice President Biden."

The General Services Administration is responsible for overseeing the presidential transition but has not yet started the process. But Biden has been in contact with several world leaders without State Department oversight.

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