MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday joined Jared Kushner at a closed-doors assembly of the Bilderberg Group within the Swiss resort of Montreux, with many attendees uneasy about what one protester known as the “wrecking ball” that President Donald Trump’s administration has taken to the postwar worldwide order.
The annual gathering of high-profile members from enterprise, politics, intelligence and protection noticed a go to from America’s high diplomat simply as freshly-announced Trump tariffs on Mexico rattled world markets and U.S. tensions with Iran raised world considerations.
The four-day assembly that ends Sunday comes as Trump critics argue that his rhetoric and insurance policies are a menace to the globalist postwar stability that was largely born of U.S. management. Trump supporters counter that the US has been taken without any consideration for too lengthy and its wants should now come first.
Non-public safety and Swiss police cordoned off sidewalks and restricted site visitors close to the bright-yellow Fairmont Le Montreux Palace overlooking Lake Geneva, the place the assembly was happening this yr. A handful of placard-waving protesters voiced their opposition peacefully exterior the gates.
The occasion, which goals to foster dialogue between consultants from North America and Europe, is closed off to the general public, and attendees are inspired to maintain quiet about what is claimed inside. On the agenda this yr had been matters like Europe, China and Russia, local weather change, the way forward for capitalism and cyberthreats.
The assembly’s theme this yr — “A Steady Strategic Order” — was one thing that Trump critics mentioned the U.S. chief and his advisers ought to ponder.
“What we have now is an administration that’s behaving like a unilateralist wrecking ball,” mentioned Ken Oye, an MIT political science professor on sabbatical in Switzerland, who got here to protest.
He predicted these are the assembly “are prone to be telling him ‘that you simply’re not serving American pursuits or worldwide pursuits extra broadly outlined. You make a mistake, and listed here are the the reason why we consider so.'”
Many on the assembly have championed cooperation in tackling worldwide points and have bemoaned Trump’s “America First” method, which has damaged with a long time of U.S. coverage.
Among the many notable Europeans attending this yr are NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg, German Protection Minister Ursula von der Leyen and the British and Danish intelligence chiefs, Jeremy Fleming and Lars Findsen.
Along with Kushner and Pompeo, each of whom are presently on main diplomatic missions, a minimum of two senior Pentagon officers and two senior members of the Nationwide Safety Council had been on the discussion board.
Attendees from media outfits like Bloomberg, The Economist and The Washington Put up had been rubbing elbows with political leaders corresponding to rising Democratic Social gathering character Stacey Abrams and chiefs of worldwide organizations just like the U.N. cultural company and animal rights group WWF.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, arrived from Tel Aviv after a three-nation Center East tour geared toward constructing assist for his but unreleased Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Pompeo got here to Switzerland from Germany as a part of a four-country European tour dominated by rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Pompeo is searching for to guarantee European leaders that regardless of U.S. intentions to step up financial strain on Iran with sanctions, the U.S. isn’t searching for conflict with the Islamic Republic and will discover opening a channel of communications with Tehran.
Trump has overtly signaled that he desires to speak to Iranian leaders and impartial Switzerland, which has lengthy represented U.S. pursuits in Iran, could possibly be a handy emissary.
Pompeo will meet the Swiss overseas minister on Sunday, prompting hypothesis towards that finish.
“I am not going to speak about how we’re speaking or not speaking with (Iran),” Pompeo informed reporters on his airplane. Requested why he was spending three days in Bern — the Swiss capital that was final visited by a U.S. secretary of state greater than 20 years in the past — he replied coyly solely that he is a “huge cheese and chocolate fan.”
Earlier than heading to Montreux, Pompeo visited the outdated metropolis of Bern, touring the UNESCO World Heritage Website along with his spouse, Susan, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Ed McMullen, a variety of aides and a big safety contingent.
The 40-minute stroll included stops on the historic 15th-century Bern Minster cathedral, strolling by the house the place Albert Einstein developed his Concept of Relativity whereas working on the Swiss patent workplace from 1903-1905, and seeing the town’s 13th-century Zytglogge, or “Time bell” clock tower, which is claimed to have impressed Einstein.
AP Diplomatic Author Lee reported from Bern, Switzerland.