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Pompeo raises freedom of the press after clash with NPR reporter

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWar in the Caucasus: What happens without US leadership — but a chance to get it right Pompeo to meet separately with Azerbaijan, Armenia top diplomats Taking aim at online anti-Semitism MORE is pushing for freedom of the press in a trip abroad after he clashed with an NPR reporter last month. 

Pompeo defended the freedom of the press in three separate public statements in Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kazakhstan over the past three days, The Associated Press noted.

During a press conference in Uzbekistan, Pompeo celebrated the countries’ efforts “loosening restrictions on the press” and said he looks “forward to further progress in these areas and others."

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In Belarus, he said the U.S. prioritizes human rights and the freedom of the press and instructed the country that it would need to do more on those fronts to get the U.S. to lift sanctions, the AP added.

Radio Azattyq in Kazakhstan also asked Pompeo “what kind of message” the NPR interview sends to countries that have suppressed media outlets. The secretary replied that the interview was not any more “confrontational” than others in which he has participated.  

“In America, that’s the greatness of our nation: Reporters like yourself get to ask me any question and all questions,” he said, according to the AP. “We talk openly. We express our view; they ask their questions. That’s how we proceed in America.”

Pompeo added that reporters who accompany him on his plane need to follow a “certain set of behaviors” including honesty, the AP noted.

The secretary got in a spat with an NPR reporter last month after she asked about Ukraine, a country intertwined in President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE’s impeachment trial. He reportedly then asked her to point out Ukraine on an unlabeled map, saying the American people do not care about the country.

The State Department also had taken an NPR diplomatic correspondent out of the press pool traveling with the secretary to Europe and Central Asia, allegedly in response to the disagreement with the other reporter.