ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – American diplomats are optimistic despite the closure of the government, leaving many of them working without paid work, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday.
"Morale is good," Pompeo told journalists in Abu Dhabi, one of the stops during his nine-national tour through the Middle East, because the shutdown would enter its fourth week. "They understand that there are quarrels in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties are continued and they are executed."
"We are doing our best to ensure that this does not affect our diplomacy," he said about the longest federal shutdown in American history.
Nearly half of the employees of the US Department of State and about a quarter abroad were abandoned during the closure. With the exception of certain local employees abroad, the rest work without payment, including those who are in charge of supporting Pompeo's journey, which has so far brought him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain.
The travels of Pompeo would continue to Sunday with stops in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He will package the tour on Mondays and Tuesdays in Oman and Kuwait.
Even with the government closed, Pompeo said he is still planning to organize all US ambassadors for a previously scheduled conference in Washington next week.
"It's something we've heard for a while," he said. "It is incredibly important that they hear directly from me, it is an important opportunity for me to stand in front of the over-180s of my commanders in the field to look them in the eye and to describe what we do and how I expect them to do that. "
Pompeo also defended his wife's presence during his Mideast tour. Susan Pompeo's journey with her husband has made some people's eyebrows doubt why they accompany him during the shutdown. Pompeo called her a "force multiplier" who looks at things he might not have had time for.
"With regard to my wife's journey, she is also on an important mission," said Pompeo, noting that she has visited the families of American diplomats to measure their quality of life and to suggest how this can be improved. & # 39; She is here on a work trip and is doing her best to do what you would see if the wife of a military leader tries to help the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. & # 39;
"Do our officers live under the circumstances that the Pompeo family would like to accept? How is their life?" He said. He added that she would draft a report on what she thought with suggestions for improvements, similar to what she did with CIA families, while Pompeo was head of the intelligence agency.
"All the things that are part of the lives of our families who serve in sometimes very difficult places, they get the chance to go there to see how they live and to help me understand what we can do to make sure that team has everything they need, "said Pompeo.
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