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Pompeo Cancels Visit to Sri Lanka

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the India Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C., June 12, 2019.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is canceling a visit to Sri Lanka during his upcoming visit to the Indo-Pacific region that includes accompanying President Donald Trump to the G-20 summit in Japan.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo said “unavoidable scheduling conflicts” necessitated the cancellation. The visit would have come nearly two months after the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed more than 250 people at hotels and churches.

Pompeo “regrets that he is no longer able to visit Colombo at this time,” the embassy said in a statement. “He hopes to travel to Sri Lanka at a later date to underscore our strong partnership with Sri Lanka, which is rooted in a commitment to democracy, economic growth and a free, open Indo-Pacific region.”

The top U.S. diplomat is traveling to India, Japan and South Korea June 24-30 to try to broaden Washington’s partnerships with allies in the Indo-Pacific region. Trade and North Korea will be high on the agenda.

The secretary of state’s visit to New Delhi comes after a decision by Trump to end preferential trade treatment for India amid a deepening dispute over protectionism.

"We remain open to dialogue, and we hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers,” said Pompeo during a recent event at the U.S.-India Business Council.

In New Delhi, Pompeo will discuss the U.S.-India strategic partnership with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won re-election last month.

The top U.S. diplomat will join Trump for the G-20 leaders' summit, where the president is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid escalating trade disputes between the world's leading economies.

The highly anticipated Trump-Xi meeting also comes after Xi’s scheduled visit to North Korea later this week, which makes Xi the first Chinese leader to visit Pyongyang in 14 years.

In Washington, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said the U.S. has no preconditions for a new talk with North Korea. Negotiations have been in a "holding pattern" since a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.

"The door is wide open to negotiations," said Biegun at an event Wednesday at the Atlantic Council. "We expect and hope that in the not too distant future we will be re-engaged in this process in a substantive way."

Pompeo will join Trump in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of G-20 summit. Following the G-20, the secretary will also accompany Trump to Seoul to meet with President Moon Jae-in, according to the State Department.

Officials say U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders will strengthen trilateral cooperation on a unified approach to achieve “the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea.