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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 to arrive in Berlin on May 7, due to what a spokeswoman said were "pressing issues."

Meanwhile, Russian officials said that Pompeo was expected to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on May 14. It would be their second meeting in just over a week.

"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 Rovaniemi, Finland, where he held face-to-face talks with Lavrov on May 6.

He had been scheduled to travel to London and Greenland on the May 5-9 trip to Europe, but it was not immediately clear where he would go from Finland.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia was preparing for a meeting between Pompeo and Lavrov in Sochi on May 14.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he would "not rule out" that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who often spends time in Sochi, would meet with Pompeo afterward. He suggested it would depend on the outcome of the meeting.

Pompeo said late on May 6 that he had a "good conversation" with Lavrov, who called their 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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