Pompeo: NATO 'more indispensable than ever' in light of Russia threat

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin MORE said Friday that the NATO alliance is "more indispensable than ever" after recent actions from Russia, including an assassination attempt on British soil.

In his first public remarks after being confirmed as President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE's new secretary of State, Pompeo urged the alliance not to return to "business as usual."

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"In light of Russia's unacceptable actions, NATO is more indispensable than ever," Pompeo said. "As our allies agree, the use of military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia on U.K. territory was a reckless action that put the lives of innocent civilians at risk."

"NATO should not return to business as usual with Russia until Moscow shows a clear change in its actions," he added.

Russia has denied responsibility for the March poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who were found unconscious on a park bench suffering from what the United Kingdom said were the symptoms of a Soviet-developed nerve agent.

The British government, along with the Trump administration, condemned the actions as a Russian operation and refused to accept the denials of the Russian government.

Pompeo's predecessor, Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump rails against media coverage | Calls reporting on Iran tensions 'highly inaccurate' | GOP senator blocking Trump pick for Turkey ambassador | Defense bill markup next week Trump frustrated with advisers over Iran, wants to speak to leaders in Tehran: report Juan Williams: Trump's scorecard is rife with losses MORE, laid blame for the attack at Russia's feet before his firing by Trump last month.

“From Ukraine to Syria — and now the [United Kingdom] — Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens,” Tillerson said in early March.

Russia has issued a number of statements accusing the U.K. and U.S. of deliberately inflaming tensions over the matter, while ignoring Russia's explanations.

Trump famously called the NATO alliance "obsolete" during his campaign for president, a statement he walked back last year.