Pom­peo says US diplo­mats’ morale ‘good’ de­spite shut­down

The Myanmar Times - - World -

AMER­I­CAN diplo­mats are up­beat de­spite the gov­ern­ment shut­down that has left many of them work­ing with­out pay, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Satur­day.

“Morale is good,” Pom­peo told re­porters in Abu Dhabi, one of the stops on his nine-na­tion tour of Mid­dle East, as the shut­down was set to en­ter its fourth week. “They un­der­stand that there are squab­bles in Wash­ing­ton, but their mis­sion re­mains, their du­ties con­tinue and they’re ex­e­cut­ing them.”

“We’re do­ing our best to make sure it doesn’t im­pact our diplo­macy,” he said of the long­est fed­eral shut­down in Amer­i­can his­tory.

Al­most half of the State De­part­ment em­ploy­ees in the United States and about one-quar­ter abroad have been fur­loughed dur­ing the shut­down. With the ex­cep­tion of cer­tain lo­cal em­ploy­ees over­seas, the rest are work­ing with­out pay, in­clud­ing those tasked with sup­port­ing Pom­peo’s trip, which has thus far taken him to Jor­dan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain.

Pom­peo’s trav­els were to con­tinue to Sun­day with stops in Qatar and Saudi Ara­bia. He will wrap the tour up on Mon­day and Tues­day in Oman and Kuwait.

Even with the gov­ern­ment closed, Pom­peo said he still plans to host all U.S. am­bas­sadors for a pre­vi­ously sched­uled con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton next week.

“It’s some­thing that we’ve had teed up for a while,” he said. “It is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant that they hear directly from me. It’s an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity for me to get in front of 180-plus of my com­man­ders in the field to look them in the eye and de­scribe to them what it is we’re do­ing and how it is I ex­pect them to do that.”

Pom­peo also de­fended the pres­ence of his wife on his Mideast tour. Su­san Pom­peo’s travel with her hus­band has raised the eye­brows of some who have ques­tioned why she is ac­com­pa­ny­ing him dur­ing the shut­down. Pom­peo called her a “force mul­ti­plier” who is look­ing at is­sues he might not oth­er­wise have time to deal with.

“With re­spect to my wife’s travel, she is on an im­por­tant mis­sion as well,” Pom­peo said, not­ing that she has vis­ited the fam­i­lies of U.S. diplo­mats to gauge their qual­ity of life and make sug­ges­tions as to how that can be im­proved. “She is here on a work­ing trip do­ing her best to do what you would see a mil­i­tary leader’s spouse do — try­ing to help the State De­part­ment be bet­ter.”

“Are our of­fi­cers liv­ing in the con­di­tions that the Pom­peo fam­ily would be will­ing to ac­cept? What are their lives like?” he said. He added that she would pre­pare a re­port on what she found with sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ments, sim­i­lar to what she did with CIA fam­i­lies while Pom­peo was head of the in­tel­li­gence agency.

“All the things that make up the lives of our fam­i­lies who are serv­ing in some­times very dif­fi­cult places she gets a chance to get out there to see how they’re liv­ing and help me un­der­stand what it is that we can do to make sure that our team has ev­ery­thing that they need,” Pom­peo said. –

Photo: AP

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and his wife Su­san ar­rive at Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emi­rates, on Fri­day.

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