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Pompeo Cancels Germany Visit; Russia Says New Lavrov Meeting Expected Next Week


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as they meet on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting on May 6.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has abruptly canceled a visit to Germany hours before he was due to arrive in Berlin, because of what a spokesman said were "pressing issues."

"Unfortunately, we must reschedule the Berlin meetings due to pressing issues," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

Ortagus added that the meetings, which had been scheduled with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, would be rescheduled.

"We look forward to rescheduling this important set of meetings. The secretary looks forward to being in Berlin soon," Ortagus said.

Pompeo has been attending an Arctic Council meeting in Finland. He had been expected to travel to London and Greenland on the May 5-9 trip to Europe, but it was not immediately clear where he would travel from Finland.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia was preparing for a meeting between Pompeo and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on May 14.

That would be the second meeting in just over a week between Pompeo and Lavrov, who held talks on the sidelines of the Arctic Council gathering on May 6.

Pompeo said late on May 6 that he had a "good conversation" with Lavrov, who called the talks "constructive."

The talks came amid tension over the crisis in Venezuela, where Russia backs Nicolas Maduro and the United States backs opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom it has recognized as the interim president.

Pompeo said the two discussed "a wide range of issues."

"We have interests that are definitely different," Pompeo said. "There was a desire to begin to try and find paths where we can make real progress on places where we have overlapping interests, as narrow as they may be, and hope we can achieve that."

In Germany, Pompeo had been set to discuss "issues of mutual concern, such as Ukraine, Russia, China, Syria, and the Western Balkans" with Merkel and Maas.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, TASS, RIA Novosti, and Interfax

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