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Pompeo to Travel to Ukraine in January

FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Nov. 18, 2019.

U.S. top diplomat Mike Pompeo will travel in January to Ukraine, the country at the heart of the ongoing impeachment process against President Donald Trump, the State Department said Monday.

Pompeo, who will also visit Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus, will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

The trip will make Pompeo the most senior U.S. official to visit Ukraine since the scandal over a controversial phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy erupted earlier this year.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress Dec. 18 and faces trial in the Senate.

Pompeo, a staunch Trump defender, was personally implicated by several witnesses during the impeachment inquiry.

Trump is accused of having withheld nearly $400 million in assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting with Zelenskiy to push Kyiv to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.

Despite testimony from 17 officials that Trump leveraged his office for political gain, the president has maintained his innocence throughout the impeachment inquiry -- denouncing it as an "attempted coup" and an "assault on America."

The statement does not mention corruption in Ukraine, although the White House has insisted this was the main reason Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was then serving on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company.

Ortagus only suggested that this issue could be discussed by referring to talks on "the investment climate, and the government's reform agenda."

The visit comes after Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists battling the government's forces exchanged 200 prisoners on Sunday, a further sign of the fragile detente that has begun since Zelenskiy was elected in April.

Pompeo's trip aims to "reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Ortagus said.