File photo taken on April 12, 2018 shows that Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination to become the secretary of state on the Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)
The U.S. Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson.
Pompeo, the outgoing chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), won 57 votes in support against 42 senators who opposed. Most Senate Democrats voted against him, for fear that his hawkish policy positions could dire U.S. interests.
The confirmation enabled Pompeo to represent the United States to attend an upcoming NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, and would facilitate his communication with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump's direct talks with top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
Shortly after the confirmation, Trump said he was "pleased" with the Senate's confirmation of Pompeo to serve as the U.S. 70th secretary of state.
In a statement issued by the White House, Trump noted Pompeo's "immense talent, energy, and intellect," saying these would be "an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history."
"He will always put the interests of America first. He has my trust. He has my support," Trump said.
Trump confirmed on April 18 that Pompeo secretly met with Kim earlier this month, tweeting that the "meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed."
The Kim-Trump meeting was expected in May or early June.
Trump on March 13 announced plans to replace Tillerson with Pompeo. Trump told media that Pompeo has "tremendous energy, tremendous intellect."
"We're always on the same wavelength," he said. "The relationship has been very good and that's what I need as Secretary of State ... I think Mike Pompeo will be a truly great Secretary of State."
He added that Gina Haspel, Pompeo's deputy, will become the new director of the CIA as "the first woman so chosen."