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Trump's secretary of state cancels meeting with Merkel at last minute due to 'pressing issues'

Journalists travelling with Pompeo in diverted flight 'do not know where they are going'

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 07 May 2019 11:44 BST
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: 'America is the world's leader in caring for the environment'

Donald Trump‘s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has cancelled a meeting with Angela Merkel in Germany due to “pressing issues”.

Mr Pompeo had been due to meet Ms Merkel and German foreign minister Heiko Maas in Berlin on Tuesday.

The State Department said the meeting would have to be rescheduled, but gave no further details.

A spokesman cited by the US Embassy said: “Unfortunately, we must reschedule the Berlin meetings due to pressing issues. We look forward to rescheduling this important set of meetings. The Secretary looks forward to being in Berlin soon.”

Neither Ms Merkel’s nor Mr Mass’s office had any immediate comment.

According to a journalist in CNN’s White House team, reporters travelling with Mr Pompeo are flying with him to a mystery destination. Betsy Klein tweeted: “They do not know where they are going.”

Mr Pompeo has been taking part in a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland this week.

Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini said on Tuesday there will be no joint declaration following the summit as the other members could not get the United States to agree on a text that includes language about climate change.

Instead, he said, there would be statements from ministers and Finland’s government, which currently holds the chair of the Arctic Council.

Official US statements and documents prepared for the meeting did not refer to “climate change” and their scientific focus was limited to reductions in carbon emissions that predate the administration and research.

In a roughly 20-minute speech outlining the Trump administration’s Arctic policy on Monday, Mr Pompeo acknowledged melting ice but did not use the phrase “climate change.”

The Secretary of State instead made clear that the US government saw disappearing sea ice in the world’s high north as first and foremost an opportunity to exploit rather than a crisis to mitigate.

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new naval passageways and new opportunities for trade, potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by 20 days,” he said in the speech, which was met with polite but muted applause. “Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century’s Suez and Panama Canals.”

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