FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about airstrikes by the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria, at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 29, 2019. With him are U.S. Army General Mark Milley and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday postponed a trip to Ukraine so he could focus on the situation in Iraq after demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassy.
Supporters of Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups stormed the U.S. embassy’s perimeter and hurled rocks in two days of protests. They withdrew on Wednesday after Washington dispatched extra troops and threatened reprisals against Tehran.
Pompeo postponed his trip to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus “due to the need for the Secretary to be in Washington, D.C., 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.
On Tuesday evening Pompeo had told Fox News the Ukraine trip was still on.
Pompeo was set to reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine on the highest-level U.S. visit since President Donald Trump’s impeachment over his handling of relations with Ukraine.
Reporting by Chris Sanders; Editing by Andrea Ricci