US secretary of state Mike Pompeo (Photo: Lev Radin / Shutterstock)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly cancelled a trip to Luxembourg this week over remarks by foreign minister Jean Asselborn calling president Donald Trump a criminal.
The New York Times on Tuesday reported Pompeo’s decision to skip the grand duchy during a trip to Europe, his last before the inauguration of Joe Biden, which will bring the secretary of state’s two-and-a-half-year mandate to an end.
The news came after his Luxembourg counterpart told the Luxemburger Wort newspaper: “Trump is a criminal, a political incendiary who belongs in front of a court.” Asselborn likened the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January by Trump supporters to a 9/11-style attack on democracy in an interview with broadcaster RTL.
“He’s ignored the constitution, court judgements and the election results,” Asselborn said about Trump.
A foreign affairs reporter for Politico at the end of December had tweeted about a planned Luxembourg visit with Reuters reporting the foreign affairs ministry confirmed to them the foreseen stop in the grand duchy had been cancelled.
Pompeo’s official schedule only included meetings in Brussels with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and Belgian foreign minister Sophie Wilmes. Reuters said EU officials had been reluctant to meet with him.
The Brussels visit, too, was cancelled on Tuesday, a day before Pompeo was scheduled to arrive. An official statement published on 12 January said the department was fully committed to the transition process between the Trump administration and the president-elect's team. "As a result, we are cancelling all planned travel this week, including the Secretary’s trip to Europe," the press release said.
The US embassy in Luxembourg declined comment.
During a speech in parliament after the US elections in November, Asselborn called Trump’s presidency “four years of disaster.” He said Biden’s election was of “utmost importance for the whole world.”
Nonetheless, Luxembourg under the Trump presidency forged closer cooperation with the US in several domains, for example signing a memorandum of understanding on space resources and expanding a US military depot--the Warehouses Service Agency--in Sanem.
Updated on 12 January at 8.15pm to include the press statement by the department of state cancelling secretary Pompeo's Europe trip.