Pompeo cancels Europe trip after reports of snub

US secretary of state planned to meet Nato officials and European leaders

epa08933147 A member of the US National Guard stands on the grounds of the East Front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 12 January 2021. At least ten thousand troops of the National Guard will be deployed in Washington by the end of the week, with the possibility of five thousand more, to help secure the Capitol area ahead of more potentially violent unrest in the days leading up to the Inauguration of US President-elect Biden. Democrats are attempting to impeach incumbent US President Trump after he incited a mob of his supporters to riot on the US Capitol in an attempt to thwart Congress from certifying Biden's election victory.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will cancel his trip to Europe this week and will stay in Washington for the "completion of a smooth and orderly transition" to the administration of president-elect Joe Biden.

The State Department announced on Tuesday that all travel would be cancelled, including Mr Pompeo’s trip to Brussels where he was scheduled to meet Nato officials.

“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," the department said.

"As a result, we are cancelling all planned travel this week, including the secretary’s trip to Europe."

But Reuters reported that EU officials had said they would not meet Mr Pompeo.

“Luxembourg's foreign minister [Jean Asselborn] and top European Union officials declined to meet him,” according to European diplomats, Reuters reported.

Mr Pompeo was also scheduled to meet Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg and Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes.

Mr Pompeo is a close ally of President Donald Trump. After the Capitol riot last week he tweeted praise of the departing president and listed the administration's accomplishments.

This month, Vice President Mike Pence also cancelled his final trip to Europe, Bahrain and Israel, which was planned for this week.

Mr Pence’s office attributed the change in plans to the rise in coronavirus cases in the US.

Washington is in a state of high alert because of president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next Wednesday.

The US Department of Defence has authorised sending up to 15,000 National Guard troops to the capital by Saturday.

Security officials are warning Congress that thousands of extremist Trump supporters are planning to storm the Capitol again in coming days.

"They were talking about 4,000 armed 'patriots' to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in," Connor Lamb, a member of the House of Representatives, told CNN.

Right-wing extremists are using the encrypted communications app Telegram to call for violence against government officials on January 20, NBC reported.