US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has cancelled a trip to Cyprus next week in the wake of protests outside the US Embassy in Iraq, with Department officials vowing to reschedule the visit “in the near future.”
“Secretary Pompeo must postpone his visit to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus due to the need for the Secretary to be in Washington, DC, to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” the Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
While no date was penciled in for the visit, the Department said 'though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post-security posture remains heightened'
Pompeo had been scheduled for a January 7 visit to Nicosia, the last leg of a short overseas trip with stops in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Pompeo was scheduled to meet with the two Cypriot leaders separately in the divided capital and reaffirm his country’s support for a UN-led effort to reunify the island under a federal roof.
Nicosia was expecting Pompeo for an opportunity to follow up on previous discussions on enhancing bilateral relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides had described the visit as “important and meaningful” as it would have taken place days after the signing of an intergovernmental agreement between Cyprus, Greece and Israel concerning the EastMed pipeline.
The deal was expected to be inked on January 2 in Athens, while Italy was said to be preparing to sign at a later date.
In the near furure
Ortagus also said that Pompeo, whose trip would be rescheduled “in the near future,” looked forward to the visit.
While no date was penciled in for the visit, the State Department said on Wednesday that “though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post-security posture remains heightened."
On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad in response to US airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia in Syria and Iraq.
Administration officials and lawmakers blamed Iran for instigating the protests, while US Presidsent Donald Trump warned on New Year’s Eve that "Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities."
Pompeo would have been the highest-ranking member of the Trump administration to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky following the July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, which was the basis for a House impeachment inquiry.