Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that Iran is trying to “foment terror” while the world struggles to get a grip on the coronavirus pandemic, a report said.
The AFP reported that Pompeo made the comment during a stop in Israel where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss, in part, the country’s fight with the virus and Tehran.
“Glad to be in Israel to coordinate with @IsraeliPM @Netanyahu and @Gantzbe on countering two critical threats: COVID-19 and Iran,” he tweeted. “Israel and the United States will take on these challenges side-by-side.”
Haaretz reported that U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was supposed to join Pompeo, but he came down with an upper-respiratory condition. He tested negative for the coronavirus.
Pompeo did not mention any specific threats, but said that the ayatollahs have been trying to initiate global terror while the outbreak swept through their country.
Around 100,000 people were infected with the coronavirus and around 6,500 have officially died in the country. Few in the international community trust the figures that Tehran has reported and pointed to a report by the research arm of Iran’s parliament that said the number of cases could be eight to 10 times higher. The report said 11,700 may have died, 80% higher than official numbers.
The Iranian government is currently reporting a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, though local authorities are expanding cemeteries in places. In Tehran, the municipal council said it had to add 10,000 new graves to its largest cemetery, Behesht e-Zahra.
Another key item on the agenda includes talks with Netanyahu about Israel’s stated intention to annex parts of the West Bank — a move certain to enrage the Palestinians and much of the Arab world as well as many of Israel’s Western allies.
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The Pompeo visit to Israel is the first official visit to the country since the coronavirus outbreak and is expected to practice social distancing. He wore an American flag face mask when he exited his government plane.
The Associated Press contributed to this report