Pompeo to take up immigration, Iran on Latin America tour

Pompeo will start his tour in Argentina, where he will take part on July 19 in a 'counterterrorism ministerial' among Western Hemisphere nations

Agence France-Presse

Published: 11:32 PM July 16, 2019

Updated: 11:32 PM July 16, 2019

LATIN AMERICAN TOUR. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a meeting with Russian President at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi on May 14, 2019. File photo by Pavel Golovkin/AFP

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will press US efforts to curb immigration and counter Iran during a four-nation tour of Latin America, the State Department said Tuesday, July 16.

Pompeo on Sunday will stop in both Mexico and El Salvador as President Donald Trump takes controversial measures to deter and remove mostly Central American migrants who are seeking safety in the United States.

Under a new policy, the Trump administration is declaring ineligible for asylum most migrants who cross the US southern border through Mexico.

Under threat of US tariffs, Mexico last month agreed to take in migrants from violence-riven Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as the United States processes their claims.

But Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who negotiated last month's accord and will meet Pompeo in Mexico City, has voiced disagreement with the latest US moves, rejecting efforts to limit refuge for people who fear for their lives.

Pompeo will start his tour in Argentina where he will take part on Friday in a "counterterrorism ministerial" among Western Hemisphere nations.

The ministerial will commemorate the 25th anniversary of a bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

Argentina suspects the attack was carried out by the Lebanese Shiite militant movement Hezbollah, but efforts to question Iran, the group's primary sponsor, have been roiled by political interference and allegations of high-level corruption.

The State Department said that Pompeo – who has made the fight against socialism in Latin America a top priority -–- will also meet with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, a center-right leader who is seen as facing a tough re-election fight in October.

Pompeo will travel on Saturday to Ecuador's commercial port of Guayaquil to meet President Lenin Moreno.

Relations with Washington have warmed since Ecuador evicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy, where he was holed up for nearly seven years as he sought to avoid extradition.

Pompeo will also make two stops on US soil. 

He will visit Puerto Rico to meet State Department employees involved in the recovery from Hurricane Maria.

Pompeo, a West Point graduate, will end his trip next Monday with a speech in Orlando before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. – Rappler.com