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Pompeo and US UN envoy scrap trips to Europe, Taiwan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled his final official visit to Europe, while Washington’s UN envoy scrapped a trip to Taiwan, officials said Tuesday, as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment vote in Congress.

The two-day stay in Europe would have been Pompeo’s last foreign trip as Washington’s top diplomat before Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office on January 20.

The State Department said Pompeo was staying in Washington ensure a “smooth and orderly” transition to the new administration.

The United States’ UN ambassador Kelly Craft cancelled her planned trip to Taiwan, due to start Wednesday, in line with the State Department cancelling trips abroad ahead of Biden’s inauguration, a US official said.

Last week Chinese officials expressed strong opposition to Craft’s trip, as Beijing claims Taiwan as an inviolable part of its territory to be reclaimed, by force if necessary, and opposes any diplomatic recognition of the democratic island.

In Luxembourg, an official told AFP on condition of anonymity that one leg of Pompeo’s trip was cancelled after Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called Trump a “criminal” in comments to RTL radio.

Asselborn described Trump as a “political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court” over last week’s attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

The cancelled trips round off four tumultuous years of foreign policy under Trump that tested relations with Washington’s traditional allies in Europe.

Pompeo had not been scheduled to meet any top EU officials during his planned Brussels visit.

He has remained staunchly loyal to Trump despite resignations from a string of his cabinet colleagues and calls to force the president from office over the attack on the Capitol.

The House of Representatives is set Wednesday to make Trump the first president in US history impeached for a second time over his January 6 speech in which he claimed he was the real winner of the November election, then urged supporters to march on Congress.