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1 Jan, 2020 18:27

Pompeo postpones Ukraine trip following Baghdad embassy attack

Pompeo postpones Ukraine trip following Baghdad embassy attack

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has pushed back a planned trip to Ukraine, after protesters stormed the fortified American embassy in Baghdad. Pompeo was due to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday in Kiev, on the first leg of a five day jaunt to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus. The meeting would have been the highest-profile visit of an American official since the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for allegedly pressuring Zelensky into investigating Joe Biden’s business dealings in the country.

Pompeo postponed the trip on Wednesday, AFP reported, citing State Department sources. The news came as protesters dispersed from the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. The crowd had besieged the embassy since Tuesday, furious at an American airstrike on the Iranian-allied Kataib Hezbollah militia two days earlier.

Fires were lit inside the embassy compound, protesters pelted the building with stones, and the crowd chanted “Death to America,” until President Donald Trump sent in a contingent of US Marines to secure the facility on Tuesday night, and militia leaders ordered their supporters to withdraw from the area.

Though the protesters have since dispersed, all of the embassy’s consular operations have been suspended until further notice. Washington has meanwhile blamed Iran for instigating the protest, and for ordering militias like Kataib Hezbollah to attack American targets in Iraq. Tehran denies all responsibility.