EU foreign policy chief meets Pompeo for talks

BRUSSELS (AA): EU foreign policy chief met on Friday U.S. State Secretary in Brussels amid tension over European stance on Iran.

Federica Mogherini and Mike Pompeo stressed the importance of “transatlantic cooperation between the European Union and the United States on a wide range of foreign policy issues,” according to a written statement by Mogherini’s office.

The meeting came a day after Pompeo accused the EU of trying to undermine U.S.’ economic sanctions against Iran during a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday.

Foreign policy issues that Mogherini and Pompeo cooperate include “the current work towards a peaceful and democratic transition in Venezuela, the need to ensure a political transition in Syria, support to peace in Afghanistan and to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula ahead of the upcoming US-DPRK [North Korea] summit,” the statement said.

The two also discussed “the situation in Ukraine, as well as EU-US cooperation in the Western Balkans, in particular following the entry into force of the Prespa agreement [resolving the name dispute between North Macedonia and Greece] and the US support for the EU-facilitated Serbia-Kosovo dialogue,” it added. The statement made no mention of Iran issue.

Later, in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik on Friday and said he would be discussing security relations as well as China and Russia’s growing presence in the Arctic.

Pompeo’s visit comes amid increased interest in the Arctic, which has big reserves of oil, gas, gold, diamonds, zinc and iron. And with global warming melting polar ice, it may offer world powers new shipping routes – and naval interests – for trade between Asia, Europe and America’s east coast.

“Iceland sits in a strategic place in the world. The issue of the Arctic is important to the United States as well as a security matter,” Pompeo told reporters in his first visit to Iceland. “Certainly the Russian and Chinese presence here is something we will talk about as well,” he added.

Iceland will soon chair the Arctic Council, which comprises Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United States and Denmark, all of which have territory inside the Arctic Circle.

The organization, which coordinates Arctic policy, is gaining clout as sea ice thaws to open up new trade routes and intensify competition for its as yet undiscovered oil and gas reserves. There have been talks about a reform of the council’s organization, objectives and work, and those are expected to intensify during Iceland’s upcoming chairmanship.

With ice receding faster than many had expected, some estimates suggest the polar ice cap could disappear completely during the summer months by as soon as 2040, perhaps much earlier.