Pompeo cancels Europe trip after Luxembourg snub

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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