Cheese Diplomacy Fails, for Now

Screenshot: Reuters

During a visit to Rome on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was gifted a big wedge of Parmesan cheese by a journalist—apparently in protest of the Trump administration imposing tariffs on the Italian export—before Italy’s prime minister had her removed.

In video of the run-in, which took place during a photo-op with Pompeo and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the journalist (identified as Alice Martinelli) sidles up to the leaders and hands Pompeo the primo-grade cheese.

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“I got you a present. The prime minister knows what I’m talking about,” she can be heard saying. “This is Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s what we make best in Italy. It’s something our families make with the heart every day.”

Although Pompeo stayed smiling the whole time—even if the cheese had been laced with anthrax, it probably still would’ve felt like a welcome respite from what’s swirling around him back home—the prime minister was stone-faced, and security swooped in to remove Martinelli.

(Cheese) diplomacy first.

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