Top Trump diplomat scraps EU trip after POTUS snub as Brussels plots Biden charm offensive
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called off the diplomatic mission to Brussels and Luxembourg in a furious response to his boss being blamed by politicians and officials for last week’s storming of the Capitol. The Luxembourg leg of the journey was abandoned yesterday after its outspoken foreign minister Jean Asselborn branded Mr Trump a “criminal” during a radio interview. He described the outgoing US President as a “political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court”.
Mr Pompeo was also scheduled to meet Belgian deputy prime minister Sophie Wilmes who also publicly criticised Mr Trump’s response to the chaotic scenes witnessed in Washington DC.
She tweeted: “These images are shocking, also because they hurt our democratic ideals.
“They show the extent of President-elect Biden’s task, which will be to unite American society around a common project. We trust him to do that.”
And Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who was also booked in to meet with the US Secretary of State, had also launched similar attacks.
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He branded the scenes in Washington as “shocking”, adding: “The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.”
Sources, quoted by the Reuters news agency, said Mr Pompeo scrapped his European trip after the Luxembourg foreign minister and other EU officials refused to him with him.
Both Nato and EU officials were said to be uncomfortable hosting public events with Mr Pompeo.
One insider said they were “embarrassed” by Mr Pompeo’s response to the violence in Washington last Wednesday that left five dead.
A second source said the refusal to hold public events at Nato was another reflection of European officials questioning the point of the trip.
They said it wasn’t clear why Mr Pompeo was keen to travel to Brussels so near to the end of Mr Trump’s presidential term.
Officials in Washington said the US Secretary of State cancelled the trip in order to hold meetings with President-elect Joe Biden’s transitional team.
Meanwhile MEPs in Brussels are hatching plans to woo Mr Biden in a bid to reset the EU-US relationship, which they say was dealt a massive blow by President Trump’s leadership.
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Senior MEPs will invite Mr Biden to speak at the European Parliament on his first overseas mission to the EU capital.
The Centre-right European People’s Party will propose the invitation at a meeting of the powerful Conference of Presidents, of parliamentary leaders, as an opportunity to reset EU-US relations.
They hope to capitalise on Mr Biden’s passion and respect for European history in order to pip Britain to the first official engagement.
An EPP official claimed the last four years under President Trump had been a “major challenge for Europe”.
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“Everywhere people are asking what is left of our shared values and our common future,” the insider added, according to Politico.
“The best place for a restart of the EU-US relationship is the European Parliament, the place of the people of Europe.”
German MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the party in the EU Parliament, will call on other political groups to back the invitation at the meeting later today.
He will argue that “Strasbourg would be the most appropriate place for such an occasion”, according to the official.
The source raised the French city as the perfect venue because of “the sensitivity of President-elect Biden for the history of our Continent”.
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