Mike Pompeo travels to Italy for talks

Trump's top envoy to travel to Greece, Italy, Vatican and Croatia.

The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo will travel to Europe this weekend as part of a week-long trip engaging in high-level talks from 27 September until 2 October.

Pompeo will begin his trip in Greece before travelling to Rome where he will meet Italian premier Giuseppe Conte and foreign minister Luigi Di Maio to discuss the "US-Italy bilateral relationship, covid-19 responses, and efforts to confront shared security threats and promote regional stability," according to a statement from the US state department.

Pompeo will also deliver remarks at the US embassy to the Holy See symposium on Advancing and Defending Religious Freedom through Diplomacy on 30 September.

Pompeo will attend talks in Vatican City with the Holy See's secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin and secretary for relations with states Archbishop Paul Gallagher, before travelling to Croatia on 2 October.

This will be the second official trip to Italy for Pompeo, who traces his heritage to the Italian region of Abruzzo.

Pompeo's visit to Rome comes after he took the unusual step of tweeting that the Vatican "endangers its moral authority" by considering an extension of its 2018 agreement with China on the nomination of bishops.

Three senior Vatican officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said the Holy See was "surprised" by Pompeo's comments, saying that although the China deal "was not perfect" it gave the Vatican a "direct channel for dialogue with Beijing after a break of nearly 70 years."

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