Secretary of state Mike Pompeo cancelled his Europe trip at the last minute today after Luxembourg’s foreign minister and top European Union officials declined to meet him, European diplomats and other people familiar with the matter said.
The extraordinary snub to Washington came days after the violent and murderous rioting at the US Capitol by thousands of supporters of outgoing Donald Trump, who were egged on by the president beforehand and has since been accused by House Democrats with inciting an insurrection, amid a second impeachment.
The unprecedented attack on American democracy last Wednesday stunned many world leaders and US allies.
Pompeo, a close ally of Trump, had sought to meet Jean Asselborn in Luxembourg, a small but wealthy NATO ally, before meeting EU leaders and the bloc’s top diplomat in Brussels, three people close to the planning told Reuters, the news agency writes.
Pompeo had originally planned to go to Luxembourg, but that leg of the trip was scrapped, one diplomatic source said, after officials there showed reluctance to grant him appointments. The Brussels leg was still on until the last minute.
But Pompeo’s visit schedule of his final trip in the Trump administration, in Brussels, was not going to involve any meetings with the EU or any public events at NATO.
A third diplomatic source said allies were “embarrassed” by Pompeo after the violence in Washington last week.
Luxembourg’s foreign ministry confirmed the previously planned stop there was now cancelled, but declined to give further details. The EU declined to comment.
Appalled by the January 6 storming of the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters seeking to overturn the results of the November 3 US election, Asselborn had called Trump a “criminal” and a “political pyromaniac” on RTL Radio the next day.
The US State Department, in a statement, attributed the cancellation to transition work before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, even if until recently Pompeo had been reluctant to unequivocally recognise Biden’s win.
In Brussels, Pompeo was due to have a private dinner with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tomorrow evening.