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Pompeo says it’s ‘struggle’ to reduce risk of confrontation with Russia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press availability following the NATO Ministerial, in Brussels, Belgium on December 4, 2018. (State Department/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that Washington and Moscow are not “doomed to a Cold War rivalry,” but “it has been a struggle” to reduce the risk of confrontation with Russia.

Pompeo said the Kremlin needs to change its “outlook and behavior,” and that talks are needed with Moscow to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He made the remarks to global business leaders at the gathering on January 22 by live video link after an ongoing U.S. government shutdown triggered the cancellation of his trip to the event.

Pompeo chided the Kremlin for its policies on Ukraine, where Moscow supports pro-Russia separatist fighters.

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He also criticized Russia for its alleged interference into elections in the United States and other countries.

“These aren’t the behaviors of nations that want to be part of the international community,” Pompeo said.

“We hope that they’ll return to the right course of actions… that lead them down the path of the rule of law and order and liberty,” he said.

If Russia does so, Pompeo said he was “confident that our two nations can prosper and grow alongside of each other. We are not destined to be antagonists.”

In his remarks, Pompeo reiterated President Donald Trump’s criticism of international institutions and Trump’s calls for “strong borders” to protect national sovereignty.

“New winds are blowing across the world,” Pompeo said. “I’d argue that this disruption is a positive development.”

Pompeo voiced optimism about a round of trade talks with China scheduled for January 30-31, saying conflict could be avoided if Beijing starts protecting intellectual property rights and accepts the principles of fair and open trade.

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He also predicted progress in upcoming nuclear negotiations with North Korea, saying he expects “another good marker along the way” when Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February.

The World Economic Forum began on January 22 and will continue through January 25.

German Chancellor Angela and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to address the gathering on January 23.