ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – American diplomats are optimistic despite the closure of the government that left many of them to work without pay, the American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.
"Morale is good," Pompey told reporters in Abu Dhabi, one of the stops on his nine-nation tour in the Middle East, as the arrest was scheduled for the fourth week. "They understand that there are quarrels in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they are executing them".
"We are doing our best to make sure it has no impact on our diplomacy," he said of the longest federal arrest in US history.
Almost half of the US State Department employees and about a quarter abroad were kept in isolation during the closure. With the exception of some local employees abroad, the rest are working without pay, including those responsible for supporting Pompey's journey, which has so far taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain.
Pompey's travels had to continue until Sunday with stops in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Monday and Tuesday will cover the tour in Oman and Kuwait.
Even with the government closed, Pompeo said he plans to host all US ambassadors for a conference previously scheduled in Washington next week.
"It's something we've recovered for a while", he said. "It's incredibly important that they listen directly to me." For me it's an important opportunity to stand before 180 and more of my field commanders to look them in the eye and describe what we're doing and how I expect them to do it. "
Pompey also defended the presence of his wife on his tour in the Middle East. Susan Pompeo's journey with her husband raised the eyebrows of some who questioned why she accompanied him during closing. Pompey called it a "force multiplier" that is examining issues that otherwise would not have had time to deal with.
"As for my wife's trip, she is also on an important mission," said Pompey, noting that she visited the families of US diplomats to assess their quality of life and make suggestions on how to improve it. "He's here on a business trip doing his best to do what you would do with the military commander's spouse – trying to help the State Department be better."
"Our officers live in conditions that the Pompeo family would be willing to accept? How are their lives?" He said. He added that he would prepare a report on what he found with suggestions for improvements, similar to what he did with the CIA families while Pompey was head of intelligence.
"All the things that make up the lives of our families who are serving in sometimes very difficult places, you have the chance to go out there to see how they are living and help me understand what we can do to make sure our team has everything what they need, "said Pompeo.
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