Mike Pompeo Smiles as Protester Hands Him a Block of Cheese to Protest Trump's Tariff Threat

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was handed a block of cheese by a woman who was reportedly protesting United States tariff threats against the European Union.

Video footage recorded in Rome by the Associated Press shows Pompeo shaking hands with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, when a woman approaches the two men.

"Mr. Prime Minister knows what I'm talking about. This is Parmigiano Reggiano and is what we make best in Italy," she says, according to subtitles provided by the Associated Press. "So it's something our farmers make with their hearts every day. So we hope you can help us and take it to Trump."

Pompeo accepted the cheese, and Conte says something to the woman, who responds, in Italian, "Thank you. I hope this is going to help the situation." The woman is then ushered away from the scene by men in suits.

Jessica Donati, a Wall Street Journal reporter, tweeted that the woman gave the Parmesan cheese to Pompeo to protest tariffs. The Hill and ABC News both reported that the cheese was proffered as a protest against duties. The Hill also reported that the woman who gave Pompeo the cheese was Alice Martinelli, a correspondent for La Iene, a television show.

Other protesters showed up at the event with signs. One read "Don't kill Italian food," Reuters reported.

Pompeo's meeting with the Italian prime minister comes as trade tensions could increase between the U.S. and the EU. The World Trade Organization ruled earlier this year that the U.S. could impose tariffs on the EU over a 15-year dispute regarding EU aerospace company Airbus. The WTO said that both Airbus and Boeing received illegal subsidies, and the body is expected to say this week what amount of goods the U.S. can issue tariffs against, if it chooses to retaliate.

The U.S. has already published a list of European goods worth $25 billion that it could target. Those products include cheese and a range of other food products.

EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that the bloc is considering "all kinds of areas where we could react" if the U.S. were to implement tariffs. The U.S. has signaled that it plans to do so.

The tensions with EU, which Trump has previously threatened with tariffs, could increase even as the impact of the trade war with China becomes more apparent. In Trump's attempts to reshape global trade negotiations, he has infused uncertainty into the world economy. In September U.S. manufacturers suffered their worst month since the end of the Great Recession, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Figures released on Tuesday showed that the manufacturing index fell to the lowest level since June 2009.

Pompeo
Italian journalist Alice Martinelli of the television program "Le Iene" hands U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a piece of Parmesan cheese during the meeting of PM Conte and Pompeo at Palazzo Chigi on October 1. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Mike Pompeo Smiles as Protester Hands Him a Block of Cheese to Protest Trump's Tariff Threat | World
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