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WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is not ready to offer State Department cooperation to President-elect Joe Biden's transition team, adding Tuesday that President Donald Trump's legal challenges to the election results must be given time to be resolved, and all legal votes must be counted.
Asked by a reporter during a press briefing at the State Department if he would cooperate with Biden's transition team, Pompeo said, "We will have a successful transition to a second Trump administration."
The secretary of state added, "The world is watching what's taking place. We're going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there'll be electors selected. There's a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly."
When asked by a reporter if Trump's failure thus far to concede his defeat in the November 3 presidential election discredits U.S. guidance to foreign countries to conduct free and fair elections and for losers to accept those results, Pompeo called the question "ridiculous."
He said the United States cares deeply that elections around the world are free, fair and safe, adding, "my officers risk their lives" to make sure this happens.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Eliot Engel, criticized Pompeo's remarks Tuesday.
"Secretary Pompeo shouldn't play along with baseless and dangerous attacks on the legitimacy of last week's election," Engel said in a statement. "In fact, all administration officials should drop their false claims about electoral fraud and GSA should release the funding and support necessary for a smooth transition that protects our national security. The State Department should now begin preparing for President-elect Biden's transition."
Biden is projected as the winner of the presidential election based on what is deemed to be an insurmountable vote lead in enough of the U.S. states to give him a majority in the Electoral College. The results remain subject to court challenges and recounts and will not be official until certified by the individual states by no later than December 8.
In a break with more than a hundred years of American tradition, Trump has not yet conceded or congratulated Biden.
On Tuesday, the former vice president received separate congratulatory calls from the leaders of France, Germany, Ireland, Britain and Turkey.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday tweeted he was looking forward to "strengthening the partnership" between the two countries and working with Biden on "shared priorities" including tackling climate change, promoting democracy and "building back better from the pandemic."
The Elysee Palace in Paris released a video showing President Emmanuel Macron making the call from his desk.
Macron tweeted: "I spoke to @JoeBiden to congratulate him on his election. We'll have a lot to do together to promote shared priorities - climate, global health, international security - and effective multilateral action."
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and Biden agreed that transatlantic cooperation was "of great importance" in view of the many current global challenges.
Biden's staff also said that in the call with Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister), Micheál Martin, the president-elect highlighted his desire to "strengthen the enduring personal, cultural, and economic ties between the United States and Ireland." The statement noted that Biden reaffirmed his support for the peace process in Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement - the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
Among the few countries whose leaders have not congratulated Biden are Russia, China and North Korea.
Jeff Custer contributed to this report.