Mike Pompeo abruptly cancels trip to Germany citing 'pressing issues'

His stop in Britain is going ahead this week after he cancelled the visit to Berlin

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane at Rovaniemi Airport in Rovaniemi, Finland, after taking part in the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, Tuesday May 7, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has abruptly canceled a trip to Germany today where he was scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and his German counterpart Heiko Maas.

Speaking to the press, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the trip was rescheduled due to “pressing issues”. "Unfortunately, we must reschedule the Berlin meetings due to pressing issues,” Ms Ortagus said. The meetings with both Ms Merkel and Mr Mass will be rescheduled, where issues such as Ukraine, the Iran nuclear deal were going to be discussed. "We look forward to rescheduling this important set of meetings. The secretary looks forward to being in Berlin soon," the spokeswoman added.

But according to a German source who spoke to Reuters, the US administration cited “international security issues.” CNN also reported that Mr Pompeo’s schedule this week has been changed, and that the press “traveling with Pompeo has not been told where they are going next, and have been warned they may not be able to report from the country they are going to until after their departure.” In the past, such instances happened when a US cabinet member adds a stop to a war zone such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US has ratcheted up its military presence in the region in response to an alleged possible plot by the Iranian government that would have targeted US troops in Iraq according to CNN. “The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region,” US national security adviser John Bolton announced in an unusual statement late on Sunday while warning Iran against any attack on US interests. Mr Pompeo visited Iraq last January.

But the reference to "international security issues” could also mean the unfolding situation in Venezuela where the Trump administration and a number of countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are seeking to oust Nicholas Maduro from power.

Next week, Mr Pompeo is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, and where Venezuela, Iran and North Korea will be part of the discussions. This will be their second meeting in a week, after they held talks in Finland on Monday. The US Secretary of State was also due to travel to London and Greenland this week, but it was not clear if the latter part of the trip is still as scheduled.

His visit to Britain is going ahead this week after he cancelled a visit to Berlin, a spokesman for US embassy in London said.

"The Pompeo trip to London is still going ahead," said the spokesman.

Mr Pompeo is due to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London on Wednesday. He will also give a speech on the US-UK Special relationship.