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Pompeo postpones Ukraine trip after attack on U.S. embassy in Iraq

The U.S. Secretary of State had been due to travel at week's end to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus

January 02, 2020 04:34 am | Updated 04:34 am IST - Washington

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday postponed a trip to Ukraine, the country at the heart of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, after an attack on the American embassy in Iraq, the State Department announced.

Mr. Pompeo had been due to travel at week's end to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.

But on Tuesday, a mob of pro-Iran demonstrators stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad over American airstrikes that killed two dozen paramilitary fighters.

Mr. Pompeo's travel was pushed back “due to the need for the secretary to be in Washington, DC to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus announced.

“Secretary Pompeo's trip will be rescheduled in the near future and he looks forward to the visit at that time,” she added.

The trip would have made Mr. Pompeo the most senior U.S. official to visit Kiev since a scandal erupted in 2019 over a controversial phone call in which Mr. Trump allegedly tried to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Mr. Pompeo, a staunch Trump defender, was set to meet with Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials, Ortagus said Monday when the trip was first announced.

But the following day, the embassy in Baghdad was besieged. Demonstrators finally left on Wednesday.

No U.S. personnel were injured in the attack and U.S. officials said they had no plans to evacuate.

Mr. Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on December 18 and faces trial in the Senate, possibly later this month, though top Democratic and Republican lawmakers are still sparring over how it will be conducted.

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