(April 29, 2018 / JNS) Newly-sworn in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel on Sunday afternoon to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
Pompeo was sworn into office on Thursday before flying to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The Middle East tour occurs ahead of U.S. President Trump’s upcoming decision by May 12 on whether or not to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and restart nuclear sanctions on Iran, as well as the upcoming inauguration of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.
Just prior to Pompeo’s arrival, Netanyahu said at the start of Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting: “Today, we will welcome U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a true friend of Israel. I think that it is important that he is coming to Israel as part of his first visit outside the U.S. as Secretary of State. I will discuss with him developments in the region, Iran’s growing aggression, and, of course, the nuclear agreement with Iran, about which there will be a decision soon.”
Netanyahu continued: “Relations between Israel and the U.S. are stronger than ever, and I would like to take this opportunity to again to thank President Trump for the decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, which will take place in a few days.”
Upon landing in Israel, Pompeo was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
In his meeting with Netanyahu, the prime minister congratulated Pompeo on his new post, saying, “We are very proud of the fact that this is your first visit as Secretary of State.”
Pompeo replied: “You’re an incredibly important partner [and] occupy a special place in my heart, too.”
While he is set to meet with Jordanian leaders later in the day, a Palestinian Authority official said that Pompeo did not request any meetings with Palestinian officials during his visit, as the Palestinian leaders have been boycotting the U.S. administration since Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.