U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Italy on Tuesday, this is supposed to be a visit that will touch on all the prickliest geopolitical topics of the day—all except the impeachment inquiry he’s leaving behind in Washington. On the agenda threre are a number of issues involving global trade and security. Italy is expected to use the occasion to press Pompeo on the U.S.-China trade war. The fallout to Italian manufacturers has been severe; growth in the G7 nation has all but stalled this year.
Conspicuously not on the agenda: U.S. domestic issues. An Italian journalist covering the Pompeo visit said the order has come down: questions related to the Trump impeachment inquiry are off-limits. The trip, Pompeo’s first to Italy as secretary of state, will be a high-visibility event. Italy’s foreign minister Di Maio will meet his flight when it lands, and he’ll be followed by Italian television cameras all day.
The visit marks an important occasion for the new Italian government, which collapsed last month and reformed fairly quickly, this time with a more centrist-left bent. Italy is trying to walk a fine line between the interests of the U.S., the European Union, and China. According to Hildebrandt and Ferrar economist Javier Noriega, Italy will be desperate to gain some clarity on U.S. views on many of the difficult topics the new Italian government is facing. “The U.S. has warned about security concerns related to Huawei and ZTE technology, for example,” Noriega said. “Italy’s export sector is suffering from the trade war between Washington and Beijing, and Italy is a major buyer of Russian natural gas. The country would benefit from understanding U.S. intentions in many of these areas.”
Pompeo will also deliver a keynote address at the U.S.-Holy See Symposium on Partnering with Faith-Based Organizations, the State Department said in a brief statement, as well as meet with Pope Francis to discuss sustainable development and the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world.