BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Berlin next week at the start of a trip to Europe and will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel that had been scheduled earlier this month, but were called off at the last minute as tensions rose over Iran.
Pompeo will also visit Switzerland, the Netherlands and Britain on his May 30-June 5 trip, the U.S. State Department said.
A German government spokeswoman said Pompeo would meet with Merkel on May 31, and the German leader will stress that tensions with Iran over its nuclear program and role in the Middle East must be resolved peacefully.
The State Department said the talks would also involve Pompeo’s German counterpart, Heiko Maas. “The Secretary welcomes this opportunity to meet soon after his previously postponed visit to Germany,” the State Department said in a statement.
Pompeo had called off a visit to Berlin scheduled for May 7 and flew to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, instead amid soaring tensions between the United States and Iran.
A senior German diplomat was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that the Trump administration withdrew from last year.
Britain, France and Germany, which signed the deal along with the United States, China and Russia, are determined to show they can compensate for Washington’s withdrawal, protect trade and still dissuade Tehran from quitting the accord designed to prevent it developing a nuclear bomb.
Washington has tightened sanctions on Iran with the aim of pushing it to make concessions beyond the terms of the 2015 deal.
It also deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East this month in response to what it called indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran. On Friday, President Donald Trump said he would send about 1,500 U.S. troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure.
The State Department said that in Switzerland Pompeo will hold talks with Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and also meet with Swiss business leaders and the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In the Netherlands, Pompeo will attend the opening of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and he will then join Trump’s state visit to Britain, which starts on June 3.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Leslie Adler