Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Pompeo shortens upcoming Asia trip after Trump falls ill with Covid-19

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will depart for Japan on Sunday (Oct 4) but will not go to Mongolia and South Korea as originally planned, the State Department said on Saturday, after President Donald Trump was diagnosed and hospitalised due to the coronavirus.

Initially, Mr Pompeo planned to visit all three countries between Oct 4 and Oct 8. He is still set to leave for Tokyo on Sunday but will be returning to Washington on Oct 6 after consultations with his Japanese counterparts and attending a wider meeting with foreign ministers of India and Australia.

Mr Trump announced his illness in the early hours of Friday and was flown from the White House to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre near Washington.

In a video from the hospital on Saturday, he said he felt “much better” but the next few days will be “the real test” of his treatment for Covid-19.

In a speech delivered virtually earlier to the Florida Family Policy Council, Mr Pompeo said he was in good health but that he cancelled his in-person appearance at the event “out of an abundance of caution”. He said he still planned to go to Asia.

“You should know that I’m feeling fine, I’m doing great. I’ve been tested twice in two days. I’m as healthy as I’ve been. And I intend still – I have a trip that I’m planning to take to Asia tomorrow,” he said.

In a statement, the State Department said Mr Pompeo was expecting to travel to Asia again in October and will work to reschedule the visits in his original itinerary.

Mr Pompeo’s visit to East Asia, his first to the region in over a year, comes at a time when US ties with Beijing are at their worst in decades.

Apart from Mr Trump, the coronavirus has infected his wife Melania and several Republican senators, as well as millions of other Americans.

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