Exclusive - Luxembourg, EU snub Pompeo in final Europe trip, diplomats say

By Robin Emmott and Humeyra Pamuk BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled his Europe trip at the last minute on Tuesday 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 storming of U.S

Reuters January 13, 2021 01:11:09 IST
Exclusive - Luxembourg, EU snub Pompeo in final Europe trip, diplomats say

Exclusive  Luxembourg EU snub Pompeo in final Europe trip diplomats say

By Robin Emmott and Humeyra Pamuk

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled his Europe trip at the last minute on Tuesday 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 storming of U.S. Capitol by thousands of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, an unprecedented attack on American democracy that stunned many world leaders and U.S. 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.

    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 final visit schedule 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 Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 U.S. election, Asselborn had called Trump a "criminal" and a "political pyromaniac" on RTL Radio the next day.

    The U.S. State Department, in a statement, attributed the cancellation to transition work before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, even if until recently Pompeo had been reluctant to unequivocally recognise Biden's win. The State Department declined further comment on European officials' rejection of meetings with Pompeo.

In Brussels, Pompeo was due to have a private dinner with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday evening at Stoltenberg's private residence, before meeting Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes, whose country is a NATO ally.

    The cold shoulder was a contrast with Pompeo's previous visits to Brussels, which is home to NATO and EU headquarters, over the past three years, where he has given key-note speeches on U.S. policy and met the EU's chief executive, even as Europe balked at Trump's foreign policy.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.