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Mike Pompeo Won't Say Whether He Believes Being Gay Is 'Perversion'

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CIA director Mike Pompeo is President Donald Trump's pick to be the next secretary of state. His Senate confirmation hearing is set for

President Donald Trump's pick to become Washington's top diplomat pledged Thursday to work with U.S. allies to strengthen the Iran deal, vowed to ramp up efforts against Russian Federation in "each place we confront them", and played down fears he is bent on regime change in North Korea.

Pompeo - who once hinted he would not be bothered if North Korea's Kim were assassinated - was also asked whether he favours USA military action to overthrow the nuclear weapon-armed regime in Pyongyang.

"Even while America has re-established a position of strength in our diplomatic relationship, China continues its concerted and coordinated effort to compete with the United States in diplomatic, military, and economic terms", Pompeo said.

Pompeo was asked later whether he'd resign if Trump fired Mueller.

If confirmed, Pompeo would be the Trump administration's second secretary of state in 14 months. "I am not going to weigh into the active investigations that are going on".

Pompeo also defined the Bashar al-Assad regime as a threat to human rights, regional stability and US national security.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called the questioning a "litmus test" but said he was impressed by how Pompeo handled it.

During the hearing, Pompeo acknowledged the "enormous diplomatic work" involved in getting a successful resolution to the North Korea nuclear crisis but left the window open for a US military strike.

"At this crucial point in time, we need a chief diplomat who grasps the vital importance of protecting freedom of faith around the world, recognizing that so often conflict and instability are linked to the denial and attack of fundamental freedoms".

Pompeo, who was confirmed by the Senate as Central Intelligence Agency director by a 66-32 vote in January 2017, faces a tighter bid to succeed Rex Tillerson as the head of the State Department. Sen.

Trump has delivered an ultimatum that Britain, France and Germany must agree to "fix the awful flaws of the Iran nuclear deal" or he will refuse to extend the sanctions relief by a May 12 deadline.

Pompeo told the committee that he wants to "fix" the deal, indicating that he wants to review the agreement with European countries. "If confirmed in time, I look forward to engaging key allies on this crucial and time-sensitive topic at the G-7 ministerial meeting on April 22 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ministerial meeting later that week".

Iran has paid too low a price for its risky behavior and long-term plans against Iran need to be made, said Pompeo.

"We need a credible secretary of state, not one hobbled by a history of anti-Muslim sentiment and discrimination", the letter said.

US relations with Russia have further deteriorated recently due to the "poisoning attack" of an ex-Russian spy, the following expulsion of Russian diplomats and various sanctions imposed under different charges.

Despite the security challenges facing the United States, it is not at all clear Pompeo will receive the Foreign Relations panel's support.

One Republican senator on the committee, Rand Paul, has declared himself opposed, meaning at least one Democrat will have to cross party lines and support him to see the nomination through to a full vote.

Trump developed a warm relationship with Pompeo during White House meetings over the first year of his presidency and believes Pompeo shares more of his world view than Tillerson. "So, in turn, he has come to rely on us", Pompeo said.

Menendez also had stern words for Pompeo.

He thanked China for its help in trying to resolve the crisis over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States. "Will you advocate for robust diplomacy or will you take America into unnecessary and costly wars?"

"Will you enable President Trump's worst instincts?" asked Sen. "Or will you be a "yes" man?"

Pompeo also cast his close connection to Trump as an advantage that would help him restore the significance of the department.

He said sanctions against Russian Federation and the decision to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine were evidence that Mr Trump's "national security strategy, rightfully, has identified Russian Federation as a danger to our country". He has also been criticized for his past opposition to gay rights.

"I don't feel comfortable with you not taking (a first strike) off the table", Markey said, calling the result of such action "catastrophic".

Pompeo responded, "You can look at my record". "I have worked closely with Muslim leaders, with Muslim countries". This is at the core of who I am.

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