Pompeo Says U.S. Still Committed to Israel Despite Syria Move
(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. remains committed to Israel’s security and stability in the broader Middle East after President Donald Trump provoked concerns of new chaos when he abruptly ordered U.S. troops out of Syria.
Trump’s decision “in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel,” Pompeo told reporters Tuesday as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brasilia, where both men are attending the inauguration of Brazil’s new president.
“The counter-ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue and our commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made,” Pompeo said, using one of the acronyms for the extremist Islamic State group.
A senior Israeli official, speaking to reporters before the meeting, had said Netanyahu would ask Pompeo to slow down the troop withdrawal. Netanyahu, seated alongside Pompeo, said the two would discuss “the intense cooperation between Israel and the United States which will also deal with the questions following the American decision on Syria.”
Trump’s critics, including some in his own party, have argued that the pullout of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria harms U.S. interests, cedes influence to Russia and Iran, and endangers Israel. Trump has defended the move as fulfilling a campaign promise but lately has backed away from the idea of an immediate withdrawal, saying the action would be “slow & highly coordinated.”
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.