Pompeo in Slovakia on Latest Stop to Curb Russia, China
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday visited Slovakia on the latest stop on a Central European tour aimed at curbing the growing influence of Russia and China.
Pompeo, the first US secretary of state to visit Slovakia in 14 years, will meet President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and a group of students on the half-day stop in Bratislava.
He arrived from Hungary, the most pro-Russia member of the European Union, where he raised concerns to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government both over widening ties with Moscow and Budapest's contract with Chinese telecom giant Huawei to develop the country's fifth-generation mobile network.
A senior US official said that Pompeo had a similar message in Slovakia, which is heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia.
"The overall goal in Central Europe you can see as an analogue to our Asia-Pacific strategy -- it emphasises in vulnerable regions where our rivals, the Chinese and the Russians, are gaining ground that we want to increase our diplomatic, military and cultural engagement," the official told reporters travelling with Pompeo.
He said that the United States was also looking across the region to provide more support to boost an independent media, amid concerns about an erosion of press freedom.
In Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto welcomed Pompeo's calls for closer ties and promised more defence cooperation but also brushed off the criticism on relations with Russia and China.
He said that Western concerns on Hungary's ties with Moscow amounted to "enormous hypocrisy" as Western European nations were doing the energy deals with Russia.
Pompeo heads later Tuesday to Poland, where he is co-hosting a conference on the Middle East that will promote President Donald Trump's hard line on Iran and strong support for Israel.