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World ‘Playing the long game’: US strikes harmonious note following Vatican meeting

23:20  01 october  2020
23:20  01 october  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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ROME — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s opposition to a controversial Vatican deal with China is a mere “tactical difference” between partners, U.S. officials said following his visit to the Holy See.

a couple of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie © Provided by Washington Examiner

“The Vatican's playing the long game when it comes to human rights and religious liberty,” a senior State Department official told reporters Thursday. “Tactical agreements and tactical differences will come and go, but the broader strategic vision, the United States and the Vatican are in lockstep and have been for generations, and will be for generations to come, I think.”

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Pope Francis’s team rebuffed Pompeo’s denunciation of an agreement designed to facilitate the appointment of bishops in mainland China through a mechanism that gives Beijing some influence over the selection. Pope Francis is treating China with “kid gloves” throughout the talks, according to another American ambassador, but Pompeo’s team emphasized that Holy See and the State Department cooperate on numerous other priorities.

“We're interested in and encouraging ... the Vatican to use their moral authority to condemn religious persecution around the world, in various places,” Ambassador Sam Brownback, the State Department’s point-man for international religious freedom, told the Washington Examiner on the eve of Pompeo’s meeting.

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He noted that they have a joint desire to secure a Belarusian archbishop’s right to return to his home country, which has been gripped by a political crisis in the wake of autocrat Alexander Lukashenko’s claim to victory in a recent presidential election widely regarded as fraudulent.

“We're trying to get Muslims, Christians, and Jewish theologians together to agree to renounce violence in promoting the faith, which helps us in places like the Balkans, Nigeria, many places where there is a big Christian-Muslim difficulty,” Brownback also said.

Pompeo prefaced his Vatican meeting with a visit to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a religious community that has coordinated with the State Department to help mediate in war-torn African nations for decades.

“Your work is noble, because it goes where politics cannot go and accomplishes what politics cannot,” Pompeo told their leaders, according to an account of their meeting published by the community. “We will continue to be good friends and good partners.”

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The Sant’Egidio dialogue featured an emphasis on the Central African Republic, where conflict between Christians and Muslims reportedly has provided Russia with an opportunity to identify clients, stake a claim in the country’s blood diamond trade, and gain regional influence. Pompeo’s team downplayed the strategic ramifications of the cooperation with the community while keeping a spotlight on the charitable work.

“We should be very proud of how generous we are as a people; it's actually, in many ways, what sets us apart from other nations,” another senior State Department official said.

The Central African Republic and dozens of other developing nations are also expected to enjoy $23 billion of private investment in the wake of a new intergovernmental treaty that sets rules for international business relations, with a focus on mining and agriculture.

"This will generate literally tens of billions of dollars in annual economic gains for member states of your organization,” Pompeo said Thursday at the signing ceremony hosted by UNIDROIT, the intergovernmental organization that helped broker the accord. “The U.S. is not, as some have said, retreating, but is deeply engaged. Where multilateralism makes sense and it works and benefits the world and the American people, the United States will be an eager and aggressive participant.”

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Pompeo’s team similarly argued that their partnership with the Vatican and European allies is improving, despite “tactical” disagreements.

“The strategic vision is exactly the same,” one senior State Department official said.

“And these countries understand the foundation of their freedoms and their economic prosperity,” a second senior State Department official concurred.

Tags: News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Mike Pompeo, China, Vatican, Pope Francis, Central African Republic, State Department

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: ‘Playing the long game’: US strikes harmonious note following Vatican meeting

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This is interesting!