US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Kiev on Friday on his trip to Ukraine, the country at the heart of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
The visit was scheduled for early January but then delayed because of Middle East tensions, is expected to highlight US support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia-backed separatists, but also in its efforts to root out corruption.
Earlier on Wednesday, Pompeo said,”(I will) talk about the important work that the United States and Ukraine will continue to do together to fight corruption inside of that country” (sic).
“And to ensure that America provides the support that the Ukrainian people need to ensure that they have a free and independent nation,” he said aboard his jet, travelling to Kiev with a 24-hour stopover in London.
Pompeo will meet President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is at the centre of Trump’s historic impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Key to the impeachment scandal is a July 25 telephone call in which Trump pushed Zelensky to announce an investigation of Biden.
Trump is accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in the war in the east of the country, and refusing Zelensky a White House meeting unless he opened the probe.
On Thursday, Pompeo visited London to strengthen ties between the countries, one day before the UK began negotiating its future trade relationship with the European Union.
During a visit, Pompeo has declined to comment whether he intends to raise the Biden subject.
“I do not want to talk about particular individuals. It is not worth it,” Pompeo said, adding to that he will discuss Zelensky’s “commitment” to fight corruption.
Last year, President Trump removed the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and denounced her in the call with Zelensky.
During his visit, Pompeo will also meet Ukraine’s foreign minister and defence minister, the leader of the new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Yepifaniy and brief reporters after the talks with Zelensky.
Early Saturday, Pompeo will continue his trip in the region, heading to Belarus, and then to Central Asia’s Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
(With inputs from agency)