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Secretary Of State Pompeo Blasts Past U.S. Multilateralism, Defends 'America First'


The Trump administration's "America First" foreign policy has led to the U.S. pulling out of major international agreements. A nuclear deal with Russia from the Cold War era may be next on the chopping block. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a meeting in Europe today change is good. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: In a major foreign policy speech in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began with a tribute to the late President George Bush, who helped reunite Germany in the wake of the Cold War. Then Pompeo began to criticize the very institutions that have preserved Western ideals for decades.


MIKE POMPEO: Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.

KELEMEN: He took aim at the European Union, the United Nations, international financial institutions and the International Criminal Court. A Politico reporter writes that aside from two brief heckles, the European audience sat mostly in silence. Secretary Pompeo says Trump's European critics are wrong to assume that the U.S. is abandoning international leadership.


POMPEO: You know, sometimes it's not popular to buck the status quo, to call out that which we all see but sometimes refuse to speak about. But frankly, too much is at stake for all of us in this room today not to do so. This is the reality that President Trump so viscerally understands.

KELEMEN: Pompeo did embrace NATO, calling it an indispensable institution. And after meetings there today, he said he's giving allies something they wanted - a bit more time before the U.S. pulls out of a Cold War-era nuclear agreement with Russia. Russia has 60 days to come back into compliance with the treaty, though Pompeo says, so far, Russia has given no sign it's willing to do so. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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