Pompeo says Iran supreme leader ‘lies’ over virus

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech, in Tehran, Iran March 22, 2020. (Official Khamenei Website/Handout via Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 23 March 2020

Pompeo says Iran supreme leader ‘lies’ over virus

  • Khamenei said Washington could bring in a drug to keep the coronavirus alive
  • Pompeo accused an Iranian airline of bringing in what he called the “Wuhan virus” through its continued flights to China

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of lying about the coronavirus pandemic as the Supreme Leader rejected US assistance for his hard-hit country.
In a televised address Sunday, Khamenei described the United States as “charlatans” and charged that Washington could bring in a drug to keep the virus alive.
Pompeo in a statement also used loaded language, accusing “Iran’s chief terror airline” Mahan Air of bringing in what he called the “Wuhan virus” through its continued flights to China.
“The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits,” Pompeo said.
He said that the United States remained open to offering aid and was “working tirelessly” to develop a vaccine.
“Khamenei rejected this offer because he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritizes ideology over the Iranian people,” Pompeo said.
He also signaled that the United States was unreceptive to the Islamic republic’s first-ever request for a loan from the IMF, where Washington effectively holds a veto, accusing the regime of funding “terror abroad” with its resources.
President Donald Trump’s administration has maintained its policy of “maximum pressure” and sanctions as Iran is hit hard by the virus, with an official death toll of more than 1,800.
Trump, who is close to Iran’s rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel, has sought to stop all of Iran’s oil sales and the two countries have increasingly fought a proxy war in Iraq.


At least 8 dead in residential building collapse in India

Updated 58 min 57 sec ago

At least 8 dead in residential building collapse in India

  • Four-storey structure was over 30 years old and needed repair
  • Building collapses are common in India during the June-September monsoon season

NEW DELHI: A residential building that was due for repairs collapsed in central India early Monday, killing at least eight people, officials said.
Rescuers were working to find and free the dozens that are feared trapped in the rubble of the four-storey building in Maharashtra state.
At least 11 people were injured when the building collapsed, said Pankaj Ashiya, the commissioner of Bhiwandi in Thane district, a suburb of India’s financial capital Mumbai.
He said that the building was over 30 years old and needed repairs, which couldn’t be carried out due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Maharashtra is one of India’s hardest hit states by the virus with over a million reported cases. India has reported over 5 million coronavirus cases.
India’s National Disaster Response Force said that the building had collapsed at around 4 a.m.
Building collapses are common in India during the June-September monsoon season, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are poorly constructed or old.