Pompeo cancels solidarity visit to Sri Lanka

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has canceled a trip to Sri Lanka where he planned to show solidarity with Christians attacked in Easter Sunday suicide bombings, officials said Wednesday.

The US embassy in Sri Lanka said in a statement that Pompeo had “unavoidable scheduling conflicts” on a trip next week that will take him to neighboring India, Japan and South Korea.

“Secretary Pompeo regrets that he is no longer able to visit Colombo at this time,” the embassy said.

“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,” it said.

Pompeo had been scheduled to make a one-day stop to “express America’s solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka” in the wake of the attacks, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus earlier said.

An evangelical Christian, Pompeo has frequently spoken of religious freedom concerns around the world.

Coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka on churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday killed 258 people, including 45 foreign nationals.

The government said the attacks were carried out by a little-known local Islamist extremist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, with videos later showing bombers pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.