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Trump administration nixes plans for controversial last-minute foreign trips to Europe and Taiwan

Washington — The United States referred to as off last-minute trips by high envoys to go to allies in Europe and Taiwan on Tuesday in a sudden diplomatic turnaround within the chaotic closing days of the Trump administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been due to make a closing official go to to Europe whereas Kelly Craft, Washington’s U.N. envoy, was set to land in Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon.

But the visits had been instantly scrapped per week earlier than Democrat Joe Biden takes workplace and as President Donald Trump faces an all-but-certain second impeachment on a cost of inciting his supporters to storm Congress final week.

The U-turn encapsulates the turbulent transition interval that has enveloped Washington since Biden’s November election victory. 

But it additionally permits each Europe and Taiwan to dodge internet hosting what may have been doubtlessly awkward delegations from an outgoing administration.

“It was very late in the game to be having a visit of this level,” Maggie Lewis, an analyst at Seton Hall Law college who is predicated in Taiwan, advised AFP. “It’s appropriate to be focusing on the incoming administration instead of the final days of the Trump administration.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks on the grounds of the White House, December 11, 2020 in Washington.


The cancelled trips spherical off 4 tumultuous years of foreign coverage beneath Mr. Trump that examined Washington’s conventional allies in each Europe and Asia.  

The two-day keep in Europe would have been Pompeo’s final foreign journey however the State Department introduced he was staying house to guarantee a “smooth and orderly” transition. The U.S. Mission to the UN confirmed to CBS News’ Pamela Falk that the State Department journey cancellation would come with Ambassador Craft’s journey to Taiwan.

Pompeo disinvited?

Pompeo’s journey was already trying of restricted diplomatic worth with the Secretary of State not scheduled to meet any high EU officers in Brussels.

In Luxembourg, an official advised AFP on situation of anonymity that one leg of Pompeo’s journey was cancelled after Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn referred to as Mr. Trump a “criminal” in feedback to RTL radio.

Asselborn described Mr. Trump as a “political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court” over final week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, is seen with Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn throughout a spherical desk assembly of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, in a December 1, 2015 file photograph.

AP/Virginia Mayo

The Reuters information company, citing nameless European diplomatic officers, reported Wednesday that Pompeo’s visits to each Brussels and Luxembourg had been referred to as off after Asselborn and EU officers refused to schedule conferences with the highest American diplomat.

Pompeo had been scheduled to meet in Brussels with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, over dinner on Wednesday, and then to maintain a sit-down with Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes.  

Allies caught on digicam mocking Trump


Pompeo has remained staunchly loyal to Mr. Trump regardless of resignations from a string of his cupboard colleagues and calls to pressure the president from workplace over the assault on the Capitol.

High stakes ties with Taiwan

Craft’s deliberate go to to Taiwan got here at an acutely perilous time for the self-ruled democracy. Authoritarian China regards Taiwan as its personal territory and has vowed to seize it at some point, by pressure if crucial.

Beijing’s saber-rattling has reached new heights with Chinese jets making a file 380 incursions into Taiwan’s protection zone final yr to sign anger over Washington’s burgeoning relationship with Taipei through the Trump years.

China ramps up political meddling in Taiwan


The stakes are excessive. A improper transfer within the Taiwan Strait may spark battle between two financial, nuclear-armed superpowers, one thing the Biden administration will want to grapple with.

The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979 but it surely stays Taipei’s main unofficial ally and is certain by Congress to promote the island weapons to defend itself.

As Mr. Trump feuded with China on a bunch of points, from the coronavirus to commerce and nationwide safety, Taipei turned a means to poke Beijing within the eye.

During his tenure, Mr. Trump signed off on some $18 billion in big-ticket arms offers for Taiwan and ramped up the frequency of official visits, together with sending a cupboard official final yr, the highest-level delegation since 1979.

Then on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared he was lifting “complex internal restrictions” limiting official contacts with Taiwan. Beijing promptly warned Washington would “receive a resolute counterstrike from China” over the transfer and “pay a heavy value” if Craft visited.

Interview with U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft


Protecting Taiwan, certainly one of Asia’s most progressive democracies, from a Chinese invasion has turn out to be a uncommon bipartisan difficulty in Washington.

But Biden, who favors a far much less confrontational diplomatic model than Mr. Trump, has given few particulars on what his Taiwan coverage may be.

Bonnie Glaser, an skilled on Taiwan and China on the Center for Strategic and International Studies, mentioned Taipei can be “disappointed, but also somewhat relieved” by Craft’s last-minute cancellation.

“Taiwan doesn’t want to create friction with the incoming administration,” she advised AFP.

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