Muslim lawmakers call on senators to oppose Pompeo

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Muslim lawmakers call on senators to oppose Pompeo

Mike Pompeo, named by the USA president as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's successor, said at his confirmation hearing on Thursday that he believed Washington now had a "humble" mission in Afghanistan: to bring more stability to that country.

U.S. Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo asserted Thursday the importance of Washington's arms sales to Taiwan, which he noted is consistent with its one-China policy.

Schatz later tweeted: "I will be voting no on Mike Pompeo's nomination to be Secretary of State".

While critics say Trump has been too soft on Russia, Pompeo reassured senators Thursday that sanctions and other punitive actions carried out by the Trump administration show the president takes the Russian threat seriously.

Pompeo, who is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, blamed tensions between Moscow and Washington on Russia's "bad behavior" and said he would support more USA sanctions against Russian Federation.

Pompeo said he would express his views forcefully but carry out the president's policies once decisions were made.

Since being nominated last month, Pompeo has spent much of his time at the State Department immersing himself in briefing books and undergoing mock hearings and prep meetings on key issues like Iran, Syria and North Korea, as well as the inner workings of the State Department, a person close to Pompeo said.

Pompeo acknowledged he had been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose federal probe includes looking into whether there was collusion between Moscow and Trump's campaign.

Rather, Pompeo said he would to try to achieve through diplomacy some sort of repeat of the worldwide sanctions coalition put together by the Obama administration in order to pressure Tehran to enter into fresh nuclear negotiations with the goal of getting a stronger accord than the 2015 one.

"I voted for him as Central Intelligence Agency director and haven't had cause to regret that vote", Kaine told CNN.

Trump is preparing for a proposed summit in May with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the North's nuclear weapons program, which Kim has said is aimed at deterring a US threat. When Pompeo speaks, US allies and adversaries alike can be relatively sure he represents Trump's views.

"At this crucial point in time, we need a chief diplomat who grasps the vital importance of protecting freedom of faith around the world, recognizing that so often conflict and instability are linked to the denial and attack of fundamental freedoms".

Booker first thanked Pompeo for his deference and respect in visiting his office prior to the hearing, and then brought up specific topics of conversation from that meeting that he felt concerned and uncomfortable with. "It's one thing for him to have one missile capable of landing in Denver, Colo., and it's another thing for him to have an entire arsenal, and there are things we can do to keep that capability out of his hands", Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he favored a "fix" and believed Iran was not "racing" to develop a nuclear weapon before the deal was finalized, and that he did not expect it would do so if the deal were to fall apart.

Trump has delivered an ultimatum that Britain, France and Germany must agree to "fix the bad flaws of the Iran nuclear deal" or he will refuse to extend the sanctions relief by a May 12 deadline.

Pompeo did not elaborate on what exactly it is.

As a Republican congressman, Pompeo was a strong opponent of the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers reached under Democratic President Barack Obama, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. A year after it was signed, he wrote that while the deal prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons for a few years, provisions in the deal that allow Iran to produce nuclear fuel on an industrial-scale in the future means that eventually it will be able to develop nuclear weapons.

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey seemed concerned that Pompeo would not be forthcoming to Congress regarding the intentions of the President. "It's more than a duty, it's an opportunity", he responded.

"Senator, I continue to hold that view", Pompeo answered. Pompeo declined to provide any details about his advice.

Du Lan, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, also said Pompeo's appointment as secretary of state would not ease Sino-US tensions.

He added that the USA has fewer Americans in Syria today than it did earlier in the US campaign to defeat the Islamic State who had seized large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014.

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