Jan. 2 (UPI) — Due to the recent events in Iraq and rising tensions between the United States and Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delayed a planned trip to the Ukraine.
Pompeo was scheduled to travel to Ukraine on Friday. The multinational tour was also scheduled to include stops in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.
“Secretary Pompeo must postpone his visit … to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “Secretary Pompeo’s trip will be rescheduled in the near future and he looks forward to the visit at that time.”
Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other high ranking officials during his trip to Kiev.
Last month, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump over his dealings with the Ukrainian president. Based on testimony by State Department staffers, Democrats claim Trump pressured Zelensky to publicly investigate former vice president Joe Biden, and threatened to block hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid until he got what he wanted.
Instead of flying to Ukraine, Pompeo will remain in Washington, D.C. to help the White House manage the ongoing situation in Iraq.
Demonstrators in Baghdad surrounded the U.S. embassy for the second day in a row, protesting airstrikes carried out by U.S. forces on a series of targets controlled by the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, one of several mostly Shiite militias backed by Iran. The U.S. blamed Kata’ib for a rocket attack last week that killed an American contractor and injured several service members at a base in Kirkuk, Iraq.