Pompeo Calls a Former Diplomat’s Meetings with Iranians ‘Unseemly as well as Unprecedented’

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday excoriated John Kerry, who was the top American diplomat inside final years of the Obama administration, for meeting with Iranian officials in what he described as “unseemly as well as unprecedented” discussions.

“Actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state will be literally unheard-of,” Mr. Pompeo said in a brief appearance at the State Department’s press briefing room.

His remarks came amid a Twitter spat between Mr. Kerry as well as President Trump over the American withdrawal that will year by the Iran nuclear deal that will the Obama administration had brokered.

While promoting his brand new book, a memoir of his career, Mr. Kerry said that will week that will he had met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran “three or four times” since leaving office. He said the discussions included the nuclear deal that will Mr. Trump jettisoned in May, as well as defended the talks on Wednesday by saying that will the idea was not uncommon for former secretaries of state to continue meeting with world leaders long after leaving government service.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump criticized the meetings as “BAD!”

“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” the president wrote on Twitter. “He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!”

Mr. Pompeo told reporters on Friday that will he saw Mr. Kerry in February at a security conference in Munich. He said that will the former senior diplomat Wendy R. Sherman as well as former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz — both of whom helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal — were also there as well as that will he was “confident” that will the three met with their Iranian counterparts.

“I wasn’t inside meeting, although I am reasonably confident that will he was not there in support of U.S. policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mr. Pompeo said of Mr. Kerry.

The security conference in Munich was held more than two months before Mr. Trump announced his decision to abandon the nuclear pact.

In an interview, Ms. Sherman said that will while she met with Mr. Zarif at the conference, she did so without Mr. Kerry or Mr. Moniz. She said she made the idea a practice to alert as well as brief the State Department before as well as after any meetings with Iranian diplomats.

“The criticism of us will be ludicrous on so many levels,” Ms. Sherman said.

Mr. Pompeo does not always agree with Mr. Trump on foreign policy priorities. His advisers have said he strongly disagrees with the president’s strategy toward North Korea. although Mr. Pompeo remains in Mr. Trump’s Great graces by taking crucial opportunities to vigorously support the president in public.

Later Friday, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry said the former diplomat described the details of the meetings with Iranian officials in a long phone call with Mr. Pompeo. as well as in his own Twitter post on Friday evening, Mr. Kerry seized on the criticism to keep promoting his book.

“Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s FM,” Mr. Kerry wrote. He was referring to Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman who agreed on Friday to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who will be investigating Russian interference inside 2016 election to benefit Mr. Trump.

“although if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that will made the globe safer, buy my brand new book,” Mr. Kerry wrote.