Pompeo says United States faces opportunity on Korea


President Donald Trump went to the State Department for the first time on Wednesday for the ceremonial swearing-in of Mike Pompeo as the nation's new chief diplomat and took the opportunity to "insult" State Department employees.

The former Central Intelligence Agency director already has his hands in several projects, the president remarked, some of which are a mystery to the general public.

It was a tacit acknowledgement that department morale had suffered under Tillerson, who undertook an unpopular restructuring of the department before he was sacked.

After outlining those challenges, as well as work to be done with European allies, Pompeo directly addressed "my colleagues here", and said, "when I say we're going to do this, I mean 'we.' This is a team effort at the State Department and the whole of the United States government".

It was theater - Pompeo had been sworn in a week earlier by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito - but for Trump and Pompeo, the event served a crucial goal.

After a heated debate at the Pentagon over Afghanistan policy last summer, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "moron" to other officials - and the revelation of the comment in the media irreparably damaged his rapport with the president. Pompeo described his mission as leading diplomats to execute Trump's foreign policy "with incredible vigor and incredible energy". Trump developed a personal liking for Pompeo during the 2016 campaign, when the then-GOP congressman from Kansas was one of his earliest Washington endorsers.

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Now officially in his State Department office, Pompeo pledged to meet with staff and to "get the department's swagger back".

On the issue of North Korea, Pompeo said the administration intends to change the course on the Korean Peninsula "once and for all".

Trump for the first time publicly extolled "the extraordinary men and women of the State Department". He will also have to deal with the fallout should Trump decide to pull the US out of an global agreement curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Trump's scorn has continued in office. "Many years, maybe many decades".

Tillerson broke with Trump on his approach to Iran and instead angled for a more diplomatic approach.

"I think I have the record for the longest trip to the first day of work", joked Pompeo at a gathering of staffers at the State Department headquarters. Although he has complained about the slow pace of Senate confirmations for ambassadorial and senior posts, Trump has not yet formally nominated people for numerous top positions, only three of nine of which are now occupied.