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)
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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.


UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

Updated 55 min 40 sec ago

UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

  • The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students
  • Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen

LONDON: Outdoor gatherings of six people from different households will be allowed from next week as part of another easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
But the government's chief scientific adviser cautioned that Britain was at a “fragile" point in its fight against the virus, with some 2,000 new infections still being reported each day.
Johnson, who has faced days of scorn for keeping his top aide Dominic Cummings in post following his controversial travels during the lockdown, said families and friends in groups of up to six can meet from Monday in outdoor spaces, including public parks and private gardens.
Johnson said at a news conference that this was potentially a “long awaited and joyful moment” for parents and grandparents but stressed that people must remain 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.
The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students. Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also easing lockdowns, in slightly different ways.
Johnson said the “limited and cautious” changes were possible because five government-imposed tests have been met. These include “sustained and consistent” falls in virus infections and the daily death rate.
Though the number of people dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen since the peak in early April. The UK still recorded another 377 deaths in all settings including hospitals and care homes, taking the total to 37,837.
“This is not a time to say ‘Everything’s OK, we’re relaxing measures, everything’s going to be rosy," said the government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. "We are at a fragile state.”
Johnson continued to brush aside questions about Cummings, and said that the issue was now closed after police will not take any action on the matter
Johnson has been urged to sack Cummings by political opponents as well as a number of his own Conservative lawmakers after his adviser drove 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house in Durham, northeast England, at the end of March while the country was under a “stay-at-home” order. Cummings made a later journey to a scenic town 30 miles (50 km) away.
Following an investigation, Durham Constabulary said the drive to Durham did not breach the rules but the second trip, to the town of Barnard Castle, might have been “a minor breach” of lockdown rules “that would have warranted police intervention." But the force said “there is no intention to take retrospective action" because no one else has been fined retrospectively.