Pompeo cancels Europe trip after Luxembourg snub

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a trip to Europe this week after being snubbed by officials in Luxembourg in the wake of the deadly assault on the US Capitol, according to two State Department officials familiar with the planning.The intended stop in Luxembourg had not been publicly disclosed by the State Department, which announced Monday that the top US diplomat would make his final trip abroad to Brussels. Less than 24 hours later, they said the trip was off.State Department sources told CNN that officials in Luxembourg canceled planned meetings with Pompeo prior to Monday’s trip announcement, but that the trip in its entirety was not turning out the way that Pompeo and his team had envisioned, particularly given the criticism that President Donald Trump has faced from world leaders after the Capitol invasion.

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Pompeo accuses VOA of “demeaning America” in speech that whistleblowers blast as “political propaganda”Luxembourg’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. Reuters was first to report that officials in Luxembourg had canceled planned meetings with Pompeo.According to Monday’s announcement, Pompeo was slated to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès, both of whom also condemned the deadly attack.”Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected,” Stoltenberg said on Twitter the day of the riot.close dialogWant to understand American politics?We’ve got you.Sign Me UpNo ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.A NATO spokesperson told CNN that Pompeo called Stoltenberg earlier Tuesday to inform him of the trip’s cancellation.Wilmès said in a BBC interview last week she was “saddened” that Trump took so much time to calm people down as the situation devolved and that he continued to claim the election was fraudulent.And Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn had scathing words for the US President in the wake of the attack he and his allies incited.In an interview with RTL last Thursday, he called Trump “a political pyromaniac who must be put before a criminal court” and an instigator of a “9/11 against democracy.””There is not a whole lot you can do as the secretary of state when there are just days left, the President is being impeached and the world is watching in horror,” said one State Department official familiar with the planning and cancellation of the trip.A former top State Department official said they were glad the trip was canceled after Trump encouraged the protests last week, and that they expect the US relationships with European nations will swiftly be picked up by the incoming Biden team.

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US to designate Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization”They are in the dying days of the Trump administration. I am glad they did it,” said John Heffern, the former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, of the canceled meetings. “I do not think it is a long-term problem at all. Hopefully we will never have a secretary of state like this, or a president like this or a relationship like this with Europe again.”State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday that the trip was being canceled due to the need to work on the Biden transition.”We are expecting shortly a plan from the incoming administration identifying the career officials who will remain in positions of responsibility on an acting basis until the Senate confirmation process is complete for incoming officials,” Ortagus said. “As a result, we are cancelling all planned travel this week, including the Secretary’s trip to Europe.”However, two officials familiar with the transition said there was no need to cancel the trip for the sake of facilitating a smooth transition.As part of the cancellation of “all planned travel,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft’s trip to Taiwan was also canceled.Craft had planned to visit Taiwan from Wednesday to Friday, with the US official scheduled to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday, according to the island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.It would have been the first visit to Taiwan of a sitting US UN ambassador since 1968, before the normalization of relations between Washington and Beijing.The proposed visit, the latest in a series of high-level official trips to Taiwan under the Trump administration, had followed an announcement by Pompeo last week that the US would be lifting its decades-old restrictions on interactions between American and Taiwanese officials.The Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned Pompeo’s removal of restrictions on Monday, as well as his broader move to strengthen relations with Taiwan, but experts said that the Chinese government was avoiding any major confrontations ahead of the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.”Beijing appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach with the Biden administration and will resist showing its hand in the final days of Trump,” said Natasha Russem, research fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute foreign policy think tank.CNN’s Ben Westcott contributed to this article.

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