Трамп відзначив «важливу координацію» з Росією після дзвінка Путіна

Президент США Дональд Трамп 31 грудня відзначив важливість координації дій із Росією в питанні запобігання тероризму.

“Президент Росії Путін хателефонував, щоб подякувати мені та США за інформування про планований теракт у дуже красивому місті Санкт-Петербурзі. Вони змогли швидко затримати підозрюваних, врятувавши багато життів. Чудова і важлива координація!» – вказав Трамп у твітері.

 

Пресслужба Кремля повідомила ще 29 грудня, що президент Росії Володимир Путін під час телефонної розмови подякував президентові США Дональду Трампу «за передану по лінії спеціальних служб інформацію, яка допомогла запобігти вчиненню терористичних актів у Росії».

За повідомленням, розмова відбулася з ініціативи російської сторони.

У Кремлі заявили, що під час розмови також «обговорили комплекс питань, що становлять взаємний інтерес».

«Домовлено про продовження двостороннього співробітництва в сфері боротьби з тероризмом», – йдеться в повідомленні офісу Путіна.

Інших подробиць не повідомляють.

Відносини між Москвою і Вашингтоном погіршилися через звинувачення на адресу Росії у втручанні у вибори в США, а також через війни в Україні і Сирії й розбіжності через ядерні договори.

У Європі вітають українсько-російський контракт про газовий транзит

У Європі продовжують вітати укладення українсько-російського контракту про транзит російського газу до Європи територією України.

Із офіційною привітальною заявою з нагоди укладення виступили в Європейській комісії. «Це великий день для енергетичної безпеки Європи, бо всі елементи стали на свої місця», – мовиться в заяві віцеголови Єврокомісії Мароша Шефчовича.

Він також привітав домовленість між операторами газотранспортних систем України і Словаччини, укладену за сприяння Єврокомісії.

«На практиці це означає, що газ продовжить постачатися з Росії до Європи через Україну і 1 січня 2020 року. Це потужний сигнал і нашим споживачам, і нашим промисловцям, що чітко свідчить: ЄС турбується про них і досягає свого», – додав Шефчович.

Він уже виступав із привітанням щодо нового контракту, підписаного пізно ввечері 30 грудня, у своєму твітері в ніч на 31 грудня.

Також контракт привітали, зокрема, в Німеччині, де новий контракт про транзит російського газу територією України привітали канцлерка Анґела Меркель і міністр закордонних справ Гайко Маас, який нагадав, що німецький уряд підтримував укладення контракту.

Із вітальними словами виступив і прем’єр-міністр Словаччини Петер Пеллеґріні. За його словами, цей контракт «збільшує безпеку і передбачуваність газопостачання Центральної Європи».

30 грудня Національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» і російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» підписали контракт про транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи за правилами Європейського союзу на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

А 31 грудня ТОВ «Оператор ГТС України» підписало останню міжоператорську угоду, що була необхідна для забезпечення транзиту російського газу до Європи газотранспортною системою України за новим контрактом, що почне діяти 1 січня. Як повідомила компанія, цю угоду підписали зі словацьким оператором ГТС Eustream. Цей технічний договір про взаємодію (interconnection agreement) укладений за європейськими правилами, мовилося в повідомленні.

«Таким чином, новий український оператор ГТС підписав угоди зі всіма суміжними операторами, а саме – Польщі, Угорщини, Румунії, Молдови, Словаччини і Росії. Наразі створено всі необхідні технічні і правові підстави для успішного старту роботи незалежного Оператора ГТС України і для безперервного продовження транзиту газу через українську ГТС із Росії до європейських країн із 1 січня 2020 року», – повідомила компанія.

Spurned by Neighbors, Qatar Aims for Self-Sufficiency

Before June 2017, when Qatar’s neighbors severed diplomatic and trade ties, the oil-rich Arab gulf state imported nearly all its food through the Saudi border crossing at Salwa, and by ship from Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port.

Doha food distributor Ahmed Al-Khalaf remembers the first stressful days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain imposed a blockade.

“It was a big surprise for Qatar to wake up and find that the border was closed,” said Al-Khalaf, the CEO of International Projects Development Company, a food importer and investor in local greenhouses.

Egypt, which has the biggest army in the Arab world and 20,000 nationals working in Qatar, quickly joined the embargo, accelerating a sense of shock and vulnerability.

“We had more than a thousand trucks waiting to come inside waiting at the Salwa Border gate and five thousand containers in Jebel Ali, most of them containing foodstuffs,” Al-Khalaf said.

Qatar continues to refuse the blockading states’ demands that it shut down broadcaster al-Jazeera, reduce diplomatic and economic ties with Iran, and send back the nearly 3,000 Turkish troops stationed in the emirate.

But even without an embargo, Qatar’s harsh climate, sandy soil, and water scarcity challenge its food security, especially when it comes to growing greens and vegetables or producing milk.

“This all happened during Ramadan when everybody is consuming three times more than normal. I had to fly from Qatar to Iran and other countries to buy food, and we paid twice, sometimes three times the usual price to bring it here by airplane and ships,” Al-Khalaf recalls.

Those difficulties are tackled at Al-Khalaf’s farm in Al Khor, where hydroponic greenhouses are yielding cherry tomatoes, chard, mushrooms, and eggplants.

Agronomist Fahd Bin Salah explains the high tech greenhouse systems Qatar is using to grow cherry tomatoes in Al Khor, 50 km north of the capital Doha. (J.Wirtschafter/VOA)
Agronomist Fahd Bin Salah explains the high tech greenhouse systems Qatar is using to grow cherry tomatoes in Al Khor, 50 km north of the capital Doha. (J.Wirtschafter/VOA)

“Today Qatar is covering almost 30 percent of the demand for vegetables,” said agronomist Fahd Bin Salah. “The irrigation is computerized; this is an organic farm where we don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Our aquaponic system uses fish waste to feed the plants, and we use beneficial insects that feed off harmful pests.”

With desalination plants, Qatar can supply enough drinking water for its population. Still, when it came to milk, it relied for 80 percent of it on product trucked in from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Almarai Dairy is double the size of the largest dairy farm in the U.S. It produces more than 58 million gallons of milk yearly. It also receives financial support from the government in Riyadh.

“Before 2017, it wouldn’t have been worth the marketing costs to compete with Saudi brands,” said Mouatz Al Khayyat, Chairman of Power Holding International, which founded the Baladna dairy with the inception of the blockade.

The company has over 40,000 employees on its payroll, mostly in the construction business.

Before the blockade, Power Holding was best known locally as the builder of the Khalifa International Stadium, one of the main venues for the 2022 FIFA’s World Cup.

“When the embargo came, we worked with our government to bring in 4,000 American cows by air and another 16,000 by boat,” Al Khayyat said. “Our dairy began producing milk 35 days after the blockade started, and today, we have one of the biggest state-of-the-art farms in the Middle East.”

Keeping the cows fresh and fed is expensive.

Between March and October, the average high temperature in Doha hovers around 37 degrees C. Industrial fans cool Al Hayyat’s herd with a constant breeze and a massive network of mist-producing water pipes.

Even though Qatar dedicates 54% of its cropland to producing animal fodder, there is still not enough hay for the country’s growing herds of cattle, goats, and sheep.

“We are spending up to $100 million a year to import feed from the U.S.,” added Al Hayyat.

It’s a reciprocal relationship.

Baladna Dairy began operations within a month after Qatar’s neighbors cut off  ties and imposed a trade blockade. More than 18,000 cows were transported from the U.S. to the small, landlocked gulf state by airplane and ship. (Courtesy Aladdin Idilbi)
Baladna Dairy began operations within a month after Qatar’s neighbors cut off ties and imposed a trade blockade. More than 18,000 cows were transported from the U.S. to the small, landlocked gulf state by airplane and ship. (Courtesy Aladdin Idilbi)

The U.S. airbase at Al Udeid is now relying on Baladna for its dairy requirements instead of trucking it in from Saudi or flying it from Germany.

The embargo and the resulting self-sufficiency drive have not only expanded Qatar’s agricultural landscape. It’s also reconfiguring the country’s financial markets.

Qatar’s government-run sovereign wealth fund is valued at around $320 billion. But it’s vested almost entirely in holdings outside the country. A growing stock exchange is listing more companies that produce for the local market.

“We are encouraging family-owned companies to come to the stock exchange,” said QSE CEO Rashid Bin Ali Al Mansoori. “These companies are mainly in the non-oil sector, such as health care, construction, and consumer products.”

In November, the Al Khayyat family put up 75 percent of their dairy company on the Qatar stock exchange.

“Listing our shares will help make Baladna more sustainable, to prepare it for the future after the blockade ends,” said Al Khayyat.

The November IPO for Baladna was oversubscribed, a positive sign for the Qatar stock exchange looking to attract international investors.

41-year-old homemaker Aman Qadodora says that after the insecurity caused by a blockade of neighboring states she’s relieved to find local products at her neighborhood grocery store. (J.Wirtschafter/VOA)
41-year-old homemaker Aman Qadodora says that after the insecurity caused by a blockade of neighboring states she’s relieved to find local products at her neighborhood grocery store. (J.Wirtschafter/VOA)

But Qatari consumers are simply relieved by their nation’s newfound food self-sufficiency.

“It’s better to feel independent and have your own products in your country,” said 41-year-old homemaker Aman Qadodora. “You feel safer.

 

Arab League Opposes ‘Interference in Libya’ After Turkey Accords

The Arab League called Tuesday for efforts to “prevent foreign interference” in Libya in the wake of military and maritime agreements signed by Turkey with the U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli.

Permanent representatives of the pan-Arab organization, in a meeting at its Cairo headquarters requested by Egypt, passed a resolution “stressing the necessity to prevent interference that could contribute to facilitating the arrival of foreign extremists in Libya.”

They also expressed “serious concern over the military escalation further aggravating the situation in Libya and which threatens the security and stability of neighboring countries and the entire region.”

On Monday, the U.N.’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said the deals signed by Turkey and the Tripoli government represented an “escalation” of the conflict wracking the North African country.

Libya has been mired in conflict since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

In November, Ankara signed a security and military cooperation deal and also inked a maritime jurisdiction agreement with the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital.

In addition, Turkey is preparing to hold a vote in parliament on deploying troops in support of the GNA which is battling forces of eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

Egypt, in a letter sent to the United Nations last week, said it considers the Ankara-Tripoli agreements “void and without legal effect,” adding that foreign military involvement in Libya amounted to a violation of a U.N. arms embargo in force since the uprising.

 

 

 

 

 

A Look at 2020

Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren looks back on the biggest stories of 2019 and examines how that will shape 2020. Joining Greta: Michael; O’Hanlon from the Brookings Institution, VOA White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara and Plugged In’s Mil Arcega. Air Date: January 1, 2020.

З початку доби на Донбасі немає втрат серед українських військових – штаб

У зоні бойових дій на Донбасі з початку доби 31 грудня немає втрат серед українських військових, повідомляє штаб операції Об’єднаних сил. За цими даними, російські гібридні сили здійснили один обстріл із озброєння БТР поблизу населеного пункту Зайцеве.

В угрупованнях «ДНР» та «ЛНР» ще не інформували про бойові дії 31 грудня.

 

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської окупації Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці бойовиків. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці».

 

За даними ООН, від березня 2014-го до 31 жовтня 2019 року внаслідок збройного конфлікту на Донбасі загинули 13 000 – 13 200 людей.

Біля берегів Камеруну викрали частину екіпажу судна, у складі якої українець

Біля берегів африканського Камеруну викрали частину членів екіпажу судна під грецьким прапором, серед того громадянина України, повідомило Міністерство торговельного флоту і острівної політики Греції.

За повідомленням, на судно Happy Lady, що стояло на якорі за два кілометри від берега, було скоєно збройний напад, унаслідок якого викрадені 8 із 28 членів екіпажу. Крім українця, серед викрадених – п’ятеро греків і двоє філіппінців. Іще один грек поранений.

Про інцидент поінформували Міністерство закордонних справ Греції, мовиться в повідомленні.

Міністр торговельного флоту і острівної політики Янніс Плакіотакіс написав у фейсбуці, що влада Греції «робить усе необхідне» для звільнення захоплених моряків.

Гвінейська затока, на березі якої розташований, зокрема, Камерун, останнім часом стала новим центром морського піратства. Але, зазначають оглядачі, напади стаються переважно у відкритому морі, а не так близько від берега.

Поліція виявила 6 тигрів на Жуковому острові в Києві

Поліція Києва повідомляє про відкриття кримінального провадження за фактом жорстокого поводження з тваринами після виявлення шести тигрів у Голосіївському районі столиці України, «яких власник залишив без належних умов для існування».

«Вчора до столичної поліції від киянки надійшло повідомлення про те, що на острові Жуків у неналежних умовах перебувають тигри. Прибувши на місце, правоохоронці оглянули територію й виявили шість тигрів у вольєрах, які не відповідали умовам їх утримання», – повідомили в поліції.

 

За словами начальника слідчого відділу Голосіївського управління поліції Максима Сухарева, поліцейські встановили, що за даною адресою зареєстрована приватна власність, яка охороняється, але господар там не проживає.

«Ми розпочали кримінальне провадження за частиною першою статті 299 (Жорстоке поводження з тваринами) Кримінального кодексу України. Санкція статті передбачає до трьох років обмеження волі. Наразі вирішується питання щодо влаштування тигрів до спецустанови», – додав правоохоронець.

У 2017 році набув чинності закон, який передбачає суворіше покарання за правопорушення проти тварин. Закон передбачає накладення штрафу від 300 до 500 неоподаткованих прожиткових мінімумів, згідно зі статтею 299 Кримінального кодексу України («Жорстоке поводження з тваринами»), також карається позбавленням волі від п’яти до восьми років.

In Afghanistan, Jailed Taliban Await Peace, Their Freedom

Thousands of Taliban prisoners jailed in Afghanistan as insurgents see a peace deal being hammered out between the United States and the Taliban as their ticket to freedom.

They know a prisoner release is a key pillar of any agreement that brings an end to Afghanistan’s 18-year war, Washington’s longest military engagement.

A list of about 5,000 Taliban prisoners has been given to the Americans and their release has been written into the agreement under discussion, said a Taliban official familiar with the on-again, off-again talks taking place in Qatar. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. U.S. and Afghan government officials have said a prisoner release is part of the negotiation.

But some analysts say freeing prisoners could undermine peace in Afghanistan.

“There’s a need for Afghan and U.S. officials to do their due diligence on any Taliban prisoners they’re planning to release, in order to minimize the likelihood that they’ll set free jihadists that can do destabilizing things and undercut a fledgling peace process,” warned Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the U.S.-based Wilson Center.

The Associated Press interviewed more than a dozen Taliban prisoners inside the notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison on the eastern edge of the capital, Kabul. Several of them were nostalgic for the Taliban’s Afghanistan, ruled by the mighty hand of their previous leader, the reclusive Mullah Mohammed Omar, who died several years ago.

But they also insisted that they accept it would not be the same now and that, though they still wanted what they call Islamic rule, they no longer call for some of their strict edicts, like the ban on education and on girls and women working.

“We want women to be educated, become engineers, we want women to work in every department,” said one prisoner, Maulvi Niaz Mohammed, though he said the work must be “based on Islam.” He said young Afghans should not fear the Taliban, “it is they who will build our country and develop it.”

Taliban negotiators have taken a similar tone in the talks. But there is a deep distrust on both sides of the conflict and many in the public worry what will happen if the Taliban, who ruled for five years until they were toppled in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, regain authority.

In this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, photo, Maulvi Niaz Mohammad, 45, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press inside…
In this Dec. 14, 2019, photo, Maulvi Niaz Mohammad, 45, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul, Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the Taliban ruling council agreed to a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the U.S. can be signed, Taliban officials said. They didn’t say when it would begin.

The Taliban have well-organized communication networks inside Afghan prisons that record the latest arrests, province by province, as well as who is sick and who has died. It all gets delivered to a prisoners’ commission, devoted to their release and headed by Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, who during the Taliban rule served as justice minister and the “virtue and vice” minister in charge of religious police.

During that time, he was widely feared. Turabi was known to personally enforce the movement’s dictates, snatching music tapes from taxi drivers disobeying a ban on music and television, and stalking offices and businesses to search for violators who trimmed their beard or missed one of the five daily calls to prayer.

Once in 1996, just days after the Taliban took control of Kabul from warring mujahedeen groups, when the AP was interviewing a Taliban fighter, Turabi slapped the hulking, 6-foot-tall fighter in the face for talking with a foreign woman journalist.

Built in the 1970s to house 5,000 prisoners, Pul-e-Charkhi now has 10,500 prisoners, according to the warden, Akhtar Noorzoi. They are packed in 11 cell blocks surrounded by turrets, guard towers and walls topped with razor wire.

In this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, photo, cooks prepare dinner food for Jailed Taliban inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul,…
In this Dec. 14, 2019, photo, cooks prepare dinner food for jailed Taliban inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The around 3,000 prisoners classified as Taliban are in their own block. The caution, even fear, felt by the guards and the administrators was unmistakable as they entered the Taliban’s cell block, protected by a phalanx of guards in armored vests and helmets, carrying bulky weapons that fire tear gas shells. Behind them on the dimly lit stairs were another half dozen guards, also in vests and helmets, automatic weapons at the ready.

The prisoners had free rein in a room where they could mingle, pray and study.

The room was lined with small desks at which the Taliban sat on the carpeted floor in traditional style.

The AP interviewed the prisoners in a nearby room, unshackled and with no guards or administrators present. The prisoners decided among themselves who among them would be interviewed, without interference — at least none visible — from the administration.

 Still, they spoke in whispers as they complained of maltreatment by guards, some of whom they said wanted revenge for personal losses blamed on Taliban attacks, while others fear a Taliban return.

Maulvi Niaz Mohammad emerged as the leader among the prisoners, although no one identified him as such. He was convicted to 15 years. During the Taliban rule, he served with Qari Ahmadullah, a Taliban intelligence commander who controlled much of northern Afghanistan.

 He said barely 1,000 of the prisoners in the block are actually Taliban. The rest were accused of being sympathizers or members of the group, often to settle old scores; others were criminals.

In this Dec. 14, 2019, photo, jailed Taliban shopkeeper poses for photograph inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul,…
In this Dec. 14, 2019, photo, jailed Taliban shopkeeper poses for photograph inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul, Afghanistan.

 One, Noorullah, 34, was sentenced to 20 years for killing his wife. He said that in prison he’d found comfort with the Taliban and sees their rule as preferable to the current government — though under the Taliban, he likely would have been sentenced to public execution at the hands of a relative of his wife.

He said that sentence would have been better, since now his family fears revenge attacks by his wife’s relatives. 

“Why is it better now? I have to pay the judge, pay to the police, just so my family is not bothered.”

One Taliban prisoner who gave his name only as Maulvi Sahab, saying he feared reprisals, said Taliban prisoners were beaten and taunted by guards. Dozens of prisoners were still in prison even after their sentences have been completed, sometimes for one week, one for a year, he said.

Medicine and medical treatment are often slow in arriving when they are for Taliban prisoners, he said. Every concession the Taliban have won has come through protests — refusing to return to cells or comply with orders until eventually some of their demands are met, including the use of mobile phones, which he and several others had in their hands as they spoke.

The prison warden, Noorzoi, rejected the Taliban litany of complaints. He said they promptly receive medical treatment, have access to literacy classes, religious schools and even a gymnasium and are served meat at least three times a week. He said a hospital is under construction.

Treatment, he insisted, was “better than some of them would get in their villages.”

Pul-e-Charkhi prison is Afghanistan’s most notorious, with a disturbing history of violence, mass executions and torture. Mass graves have been uncovered dating back to the purges carried out by Kabul’s Soviet Union-backed governments of the late 1970s and 1980s. Torture cells and underground holding areas have been unearthed.

Prison authorities said today the prison is monitored by an Interior Ministry human rights commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross makes regular visits.

“Torture, mistreatment that’s all a thing of the past” said Najeeb Nangyal, the Interior Ministry’s director of media and public affairs.

Still, violent outbreaks are not uncommon.

In November, a riot broke out after authorities tried to confiscate cell phones and narcotics. When it ended, 16 prisoners were dead, many of them Taliban. The Taliban said they were targeted.

Analysts and even the United States’ own Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko said neither Afghanistan nor the U.S. is ready for the Taliban prisoners’ release.

Every past attempt at re-integration has been costly and a failure.

A report released in September — one of several “Lessons Learned” treatises done by Sopko’s team during America’s 18-year and $1 trillion involvement in Afghanistan — said Afghans on both sides of the conflict need to avoid the missteps of the past.

Sopko said Congress should consider funding reintegration only if a peace deal provides a framework for reintegrating ex-combatants, there is strong monitoring of the process and violence is dramatically reduced.

Pompeo to Visit Ukraine This Week

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves this week for Ukraine — the country at the center of President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Pompeo will be in Kyiv on Friday, the first stop of a five-nation European and Central Asian tour that will also take him to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.

Pompeo will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine and hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The two senior State Department officials who briefed reporters Monday on Pompeo’s trip dodged all questions surrounding the impeachment, sparked by Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Zelenskiy when Trump asked the Ukrainian leader for a “favor” and to investigate 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s job with a Ukrainian gas company.

Trump is also accused of holding up military aid to Ukraine until Zelenskiy publicly committed to the probe.

FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks in Kyiv, Dec. 4, 2019.

No evidence against the Bidens has surfaced, and Trump’s belief that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Democrats is based on a debunked conspiracy theory spread by Russia.

One of the officials called Pompeo’s visit to Ukraine this week “much more than symbolic.”

“The secretary’s visit to Ukraine highlights our unshakable commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the official said. “Crimea is part of Ukraine, and the United States will never recognize Russia’s attempt to annex it. This important visit also reinforces our support to Ukraine as it counters Russian aggression and disinformation, and advances reform efforts to stamp out corruption.”

The official said the United States has given Ukraine about $3 billion since 2014 earmarked for law reforms and battling corruption.

Ambassador William Taylor 

The two officials also avoided answering why Ambassador William Taylor will be leaving Kyiv before Pompeo’s arrival Friday.

Taylor was appointed acting ambassador to replace Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly fired in May allegedly because of her objections to Trump’s push for an investigation into the Bidens.

FILE – Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019.

Taylor’s appointment was supposed to have lasted until mid-January. It is unclear why he is leaving early.

Both Taylor and Yovanovitch appeared as witnesses in the Democratic-led House impeachment hearings.

Another witness — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland — said Pompeo was “in the loop” about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for an investigation. Democrats also say Pompeo tolerated the so-called shadow foreign policy carried out in Ukraine by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Pompeo has only said the State Department will “continue to comply with all the legal requirements” in the impeachment process.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump in mid-December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It is still unclear when he will be put on trial in the Senate.

Other stops

During his European trip, Pompeo will meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for talks on normalizing relations between the U.S. and Belarus. Lukashenko has long been considered an authoritarian ruler, but the State Department said Belarus is continuing to make progress in human rights and democratization.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are two nations the State Department said have also made improvements in human rights, and are close economic and security partners with the U.S.

Pompeo’s final stop will be in Cyprus, where the U.S. backs United Nations efforts to reunify the island split between a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974.