State Department confirms Pompeo visit to Israel

State Department says Secretary of State will visit Jerusalem on Friday and meet PM Netanyahu to discuss Syria and Iran.

Elad Benari ,

Netanyahu and Pompeo
Netanyahu and Pompeo
Kobi Gideon/GPO

The State Department on Wednesday confirmed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel this week as part of a trip which also includes stops in Turkey and Belgium for meetings with key leaders and discuss long-standing alliances.

According to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, Pompeo will visit Jerusalem on Friday. During the visit, he will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss developments in Syria and the continued need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region.

Later that day, the Secretary will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Transatlantic security issues and US goals for the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministerial and Leaders Meeting, said Ortagus.

Pompeo will begin his trip on Thursday in Ankara, where he will participate in a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the situation in northeast Syria.

Israeli officials told Channel 13 News earlier on Wednesday that Pompeo is expected to visit Israel and update Netanyahu on his talks in Turkey. It is still unclear whether Pompeo will also meet with Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz.

Pompeo’s visit to the region follows Turkey's launching of a cross-border assault in Syria against Kurdish fighters it sees as terrorists.

The operation was launched three days after US President Donald Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of US forces in northeastern Syria, leading to some accusations that Trump’s move was an authorization for Turkey to invade the region.

Netanyahu has so far maintained his silence on Trump's decision to remove American forces from northern Syria. Despite the fact that Netanyahu did not criticize Trump, he did strongly criticize Erdogan and even announced that Israel would attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Kurds in northern Syria.