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Mike Pompeo urges other countries to help protect tankers after Gulf attacks

Mike Pompeo urges other countries to help protect tankers after Gulf attacksSecretary of state says shipping security was not exclusively a US problem and stresses that Trump does not want war with IranWashington has blamed recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Iran. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty ImagesThe US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has called on other nations to help safeguard tanker traffic in the Persian Gulf following a spate of attacks on ships which Washington blames on Iran.On a visit to US Central Command headquarters, Pompeo said shipping security in the Gulf was not exclusively a US problem.“You have China that depends enormously on energy transiting the Strait of Hormuz. You have South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, all of whom have an enormous interest in ensuring there’s freedom of navigation throughout this waterway,” the secretary of state said.“The United States is prepared to do its part, but every nation that has a deep interest in protecting that shipping lane so that energy can move around the world and support their economies needs to make sure they understand the real threat.”Pompeo added that “President Trump does not want war, and we will continue to communicate that message, while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.”In an interview on Tuesday, Trump played down the threat to the US represented by the tanker attacks in the region, which he described as being “very minor”.“Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump told Time magazine. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we’re now an exporter of energy. So we’re not in the position that we used to be in in the Middle East where … some people would say we were there for the oil.”The Trump administration is seeking to handle the Gulf crisis amid turmoil in its top ranks. The acting defence secretary, Patrick Shanahan, who Trump had nominated to take on the job official, resigned on Tuesday “to devote more time to his family”, according to a Trump tweet.Trump named the army secretary, Mark Esper, to take over as acting defence secretary. The US has not had a Senate-confirmed defence secretary in place since December, when James Mattis resigned.As with his approach to Nato and US Pacific alliances, Trump is focused on persuading allies in the Gulf to shoulder a greater burden in providing security.The US would be able to rely on Gulf Arab support for tanker protection, but enlisting European involvement is complicated by the fact that European governments see the Trump administration as having precipitating the crisis by walking out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, and imposing an oil and banking embargo on the country.On Tuesday, Pompeo confirmed that the visit to Tehran last week by the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was made on Trump’s request.“President Trump had sent … Abe to take a message of his to the leadership in Iran,” the secretary of statem said. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, rejected the proposal of a dialogue with Trump and the two tankers, one of them Japanese-owned, were attacked while Abe was in Tehran.The deputy chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Paul Selva also confirmed on Tuesday that the US had been using Swiss and Iraqi channels as well as public messaging to warn Iran off any direct attack on US interests.“To engage [the US reinforcements] would be a miscalculation that would lead to a response,” he said. “We don’t want them to do that. We want them to be clear-eyed in whatever it is they are planning.”He added: “The risks of miscalculation are real.”Iran has denied responsibility for the blasts that hobbled two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, but on Tuesday the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – which the US says carried out the attack with limpet mines – stepped up the threat to ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz.“These missiles can hit with great precision carriers in the sea,” Brig Gen Hossein Salami said in a televised speech. “These missiles are domestically produced and are difficult to intercept and hit with other missiles.”Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Arab states in the Gulf could easily help protect tankers with surveillance planes and drones, and could have warplanes at the site of an attack within minutes.Cordesman acknowledged that deep scepticism over US policy towards Iran has made European governments cautious about being drawn into a conflict, but he argued that the presence of a UK and French naval fleet could offer a powerful political deterrent to further attacks.“If what you want is a precondition for negotiations, and cool the situation down, there is an incentive for the UK and France to take part – if what you are doing is deterring attacks and monitoring the situation,” Cordesman said. Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state for political affairs, said: “The administration has a credibility problem due to its rash and unwise disavowal of the Iran nuclear deal and its threats to sanction European companies that do business with Iran.”He added: “But Iran is clearly in the wrong in its activities in the Gulf. The administration is right to consider international convoys. And it is in the clear interest of the European allies, as well as some of the Sunni Arab states, to help the US. At risk is commercial energy traffic in a critical international waterway. Europe, especially, should want to see the free flow of oil and gas for its economic wellbeing.”



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Mike Pompeo says 'several' US citizens killed in Sri Lanka attacks

Mike Pompeo says 'several' US citizens killed in Sri Lanka attacksThirty-six foreigners were thought to be among those killed in attacks that left nearly 300 people dead and 500 injuredSri Lanka bombings: stay up to date on our live blog A view of St Sebastian’s church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. Photograph: Chamila Karunarathne/AP Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday “several” US citizens died in a series of explosions in Sri Lanka that killed at least 290 people and left 500 injured. That toll was expected to rise. Thirty-six foreigners were reported to be among those killed in attacks that targeted churches and hotels and were thought to have been caused by suicide bombers. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 24 people. In a statement around noon US eastern time, Pompeo said: “While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several US citizens were among those killed. The US embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families.” The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said two US-UK dual nationals, three Britons, one Dutch national, three Indians, one Portuguese, three Danes and two Turks were among the dead. A spokesperson for the Sri Lankan national hospital said citizens of the US, Denmark, China, Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, India and Bangladesh were among casualties. Pompeo added: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning. Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security. “The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishes a quick recovery to all who were injured.” On Sunday morning, Donald Trump tweeted the message that “the United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!” The president’s first tweet on the subject was deleted after it misstated the reported death toll at the time, 138, as 138 million. Vice-president Mike Pence tweeted he and Trump were “monitoring the horrific attacks on those celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka”. “This atrocity is an attack on Christianity [and] religious freedom everywhere,” he wrote. “No one should ever be in fear in a house of worship.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they bring to justice the perpetrators of these despicable and senseless acts.”



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What the Mueller report on the Russia investigation says about Vice President Mike Pence

What the Mueller report on the Russia investigation says about Vice President Mike PenceSpecial counsel Robert Mueller's report provides new details about Michael Flynn's firing after lying to Vice President Mike Pence.



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Mike Pence answers Pete Buttigieg's criticism: 'He knows better. He knows me'

Mike Pence answers Pete Buttigieg's criticism: 'He knows better. He knows me'Vice President Mike Pence defended his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview in which he also scolded presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.



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Pete Buttigieg’s Bad-Faith Attack on Mike Pence

Pete Buttigieg’s Bad-Faith Attack on Mike PenceBack in 2015, South Bend, Ind.’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, came out of the closet as a gay man. Asked about the news, Indiana governor, Mike Pence, simply responded, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot.”A year earlier, Buttigieg had been deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. According to the Indianapolis Star, “a noticeably moved Pence called Buttigieg the day he was driving to the base.”There is no evidence that Pence has ever said an unkind word about or done an unkind thing to Buttigieg.So, naturally, Buttigieg is attacking Pence as a homophobic bigot nearly every day on the campaign trail. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Buttigieg sneered, “He’s nice. If he were here, you would think he’s a nice guy to your face. But he’s also fanatical.” Speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington, Buttigieg tore into Pence’s supposed intolerance: “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” This week, Buttigieg tweeted, clearly in reference to Pence, “People will often be polite to you in person, while advancing policies that harm you and your family. You will be polite to them in turn, but you need not stand for such harms. Instead, you push back, honestly and emphatically. So it goes, in the public square.”This is a change for Buttigieg, whose best-selling memoir contains no negative references about Pence but complains of “the complications of being openly gay in Mike Pence’s Indiana.” That phraseology is more a critique of Pence’s policy preferences than his personality. Fair enough.But Buttigieg is no longer operating in good faith. Now he’s attacking Christians who disagree with his policies and support Trump (“the hypocrisy is unbelievable”); he’s castigating Pence as a religious homophobe, characterizing him as an obstacle to tolerance. Why? Because it is far more convenient to cast Pence as a close-minded bigot than it is to respect him as a political opponent.This has become a particularly popular tactic on the Left. When Pence swore in Senator Doug Jones (D., Ala.), the Leftist internet completely manufactured a narrative wherein Pence was deeply uncomfortable with Jones’s gay son (Newsweek’s headline: “Doug Jones’ Gay Son Gives Mike Pence Serious Side-Eye”). Gay Olympian Adam Rippon randomly decided to tear into Pence by stating that “for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory.” When gay Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and his husband attended breakfast with Pence, the media attempted to push a narrative about Pence’s supposed discomfort. When Pence’s wife began teaching at a Christian school, the media leapt to label her an anti-gay maniac.There is no evidence for any of this. Pence has been dealing with gay men, including Buttigieg, his entire career. He differs from them on the definition of marriage. While I believe the government ought to exit the business of marriage altogether, there are plenty of public-policy reasons to stand for traditional marriage that aren’t rooted in animus.More than that, it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of religious people to suggest that their belief in the immorality of certain sexual behavior reflects animus for those who engage in that sexual behavior. Religious people generally believe that we all sin; that we all struggle with sin; and that participating in one particular type of sin doesn’t mean that the sinner is somehow inferior to those who engage in other types of sin.Frankly, it’s bewildering that the Left seems so concerned about Mike Pence’s personal beliefs on the sinfulness of homosexual activity. Why should Buttigieg care? More than that, is there any justification for attributing malign motives to Pence, both in terms of public policy and in terms of religious observance?Buttigieg should know better. After all, he quite rightly stated of Chick-fil-A, “I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken.” But he’s forgotten moderation in pursuit of intersectional glory in the Democratic primaries. And that glory can only be had, apparently, at the price of slandering a good man who disagrees with him on the nature of sin and on public policy.



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Tensions flare in 'long and complicated' relationship between Pete Buttigieg and Mike Pence

Tensions flare in 'long and complicated' relationship between Pete Buttigieg and Mike PenceThe war of increasingly personal words between presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Mike Pence's defenders escalated Tuesday.



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Mike Pence lashes out at Ilhan Omar, 2020 Dems in AIPAC speech

Mike Pence lashes out at Ilhan Omar, 2020 Dems in AIPAC speechThe entire Democratic — or “Democrat,” as the vice president put it, using the ungrammatical truncation that has become popular on the right — Party also came under assault from Pence.



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Mike Pompeo jokes he will be secretary of state until 'Trump tweets me out of office’

Mike Pompeo jokes he will be secretary of state until 'Trump tweets me out of office’Secretary of state Mike Pompeo says he knows his tenure as America’s chief diplomat is only as fleeting as a tweet. Mr Pompeo, during an event in Kansas, that was part of global entrepreneurship summit, responded with a joke and praise for Donald Trump when asked how long he might stay in the president’s cabinet. “I’m going to be in there until he tweets me out of office,” Mr Pompeo said, to laughs.



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Democratic presidential candidates line up to target Mike Pence after Biden’s ‘decent guy’ comment

Democratic presidential candidates line up to target Mike Pence after Biden’s ‘decent guy’ commentSenator Kamala Harris, D-Calif, said it was “ridiculous” and “outrageous” he is unwilling to meet privately with female staff – prompting a flurry of Twitter refutations from top female administration officials. Mr Pence has found himself thrust unwittingly into the centre of the 2020 presidential debate, becoming a square-jawed punching bag for Democrats and, at times, even some in his own party.



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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes back honorary office Paul Ryan gave to Mike Pence

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes back honorary office Paul Ryan gave to Mike PenceDon't cry for the vice president. As the president of the Senate, he will still have space on that chamber's side of the Capitol.



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