By Zachary Stieber
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in January, the State Department said.
Pompeo will go to Kyiv on Jan. 3, 2020, to meet with Zelensky, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, and Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk “to reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the department said in a statement.
Pompeo will also attend a wreath laying ceremony to honor those who fell in the war in Donbass. While in Ukraine, he also plans on meeting with community leaders to discuss issues including human rights and investment.
Ukraine has been one of the top foreign countries in the American spotlight in recent months. President Donald Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky, who was elected this year, was the focus of impeachment efforts by House Democrats, who claim Trump abused his office by asking Zelensky to “look into” allegations of corruption surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The elder Biden was captured on video last year saying that while in office in 2016, he pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was probing his son’s employer, Burisma Holdings.
Democrats also said Trump’s request was linked to a hold placed on congressionally approved military aid but both Ukrainian and American officials have said Ukraine wasn’t aware of the hold until the next month. The aid was ultimately released on time. Zelensky said he wasn’t pressured by Trump.
Both Bidens and Trump have denied wrongdoing.
Pompeo’s trip includes four other countries.
Pompeo is due in Minsk on Jan. 4 to meet with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei “to underscore the U.S. commitment to a sovereign, independent, stable, and prosperous Belarus, and affirm our desire to normalize relations to move our bilateral relationship forward,” according to the State Department.
Pompeo is also set to visit Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus to talk to leaders. Among the topics of discussion will be Kazakhstan’s economy, Uzbekistan’s reforms, and the United State’s support for efforts to reunify Cyprus as a bicommunal federation.
While in Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, Pompeo is scheduled to participate in a C5+1 Ministerial with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to discuss the countries’ interests in peace and stability in Afghanistan, and future cooperative efforts in the region.
“Consistent with the new U.S. Central Asia Strategy, the Secretary will stress U.S. support for a better connected, more prosperous, and more secure Central Asia,” the State Department said.