US Secretary of State Pompeo to Ahram Online: I’m so impressed by Egypt's ability to face corona and economic challenges
Suzy Elgeneidy , , Thursday 23 Apr 2020
Mike Pompeo spoke via teleconference link to select journalists from the Middle East, including Al-Ahram


Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, told Ahram Online that he is "incredibly impressed" with what Egypt isdoing to confront the coronavirus pandemic, and its ability to tackle other challenges, such as security and economicchallenges.

In response to a question by Ahram Online, Pompeo said that, “Every country has to take some of their energy and some of thetime of their country leadership and their people and focus on protecting their own people from this virus. Certainly we haveseen this in the United States, but it is true for every country."

"That means," he continued, "there will be fewer resources available for other things, but I have been incredibly impressed by Egypt andother countries in the Middle East and their ability to continue in the faith of these challenges, the health challenges and thechallenges presented by the tragic loss of lives, but also the challenges to their nations' economies, for their people towork and to generate wealth and to take care of their own people, their own families."

"I have been very impressed by the ability to keep up their work on national security challenges all around the world. We stillhave conversations. We often begin them by talking about the virus, but we also spend a great deal of time continuing towork on problems that are all around the region and the Middle East," Pompeo said.

Pompeo's remarks came during a press conference held via the Internet for a limited number of journalists from several countries inthe Middle East—in which Al-Ahram participated as a representative of the Egyptian press — about how the coronavirus crisiswill affect US relations with its strategic allies, like Egypt, and the need to cooperate internationally to combat the challengesposted by the corona crisis.

In response to a question posed by Ahram Online, concerning if there is a deadline to reveal the results of US investigationsinto the causes of the coronavirus pandemic, Pompeo said, “The deadline is upon us already.This is urgent."

Understanding how this pandemic came to be, and from where precisely the virus emanated, is important, helping healthcare officials, epidemiologists and scientists to discern how exactly to address this challenge, he noted.

"It needs to happen urgently, and we demand this of every country. We want them to be transparent, we want them to be open,if they want to be a part of civilised society, a part of the network of countries working cooperatively to deliver good outcomes for the world. They have to be prepared to be open and transparent. This iswhat happens in democracies. We hope to cooperate and we hope there will be the capacity to share information."

On the World Health Organisation's determination that the coronavirus originated in an animal and not in a lab,Pompeo said, “What we can say for sure is that the virus originated in China, and they suggested in a disinformationcampaign that it began in Europe or was spread there by US soldiers."

"This is dangerous," he said.“This isn't political."

"You have to know the nature and the path way that the virus took in order to save lives, and that didn't happen. They were tooslow. The information didn't get to the world quickly enough. The World Health Organisation didn't demand it. The ChineseCommunist Party didn't deliver it."

"We continue to investigate. The whole world wants to know where this came from and how it got to the place where the viruscould spread in this way. This isn't only about accountability. There will be a day for accountability,but this is ongoing. These labs in China, there are multiple labs where the Chinese Communist Party is working on various levels,and the labs are still open. The world is not permitted to go into these labs to evaluate security and their capacity to protectthe objects studied from being released. It is important that there are global efforts to ensure the people who areworking with dangerous substances have the capability to prevent accidental release."

"So we and the world still did not have access to the Chinese labs. We think that will prove important, to be able to findanswers to the questions presented. It is very important to get the answers, and not only is it a historical matter. But alsoso that we can prevent such a thing from happening again, and we can address ongoing challenges. That is, we can begin tounderstand the existing virus in a way that we can save lives as we move forward. The world is still suffering from this pandemicand it is time there is transparency and access, such that the world could evaluate this risk and respond to itappropriately, based on good science and good information," he added.

On continued US pressure on Iran, Pompeo indicated that that, "Iran has coronavirus cases like any other country in theworld, and America has offered to provide medical and technical assistance to the Iranian people. But Iran's leaders haverejected it, and we are continuing to offer aid, as we have done with many countries around the world. We will continue to work on that. The responsibility to protect peoples falls on the leaders of states,while Iran's leaders continue to assist Shia militias in Iraq and support the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria, and provide assistance andweapons to the Houthis in Yemen, and continue their programme of ballistic missiles, even during the last 48 hours."

"They also continue to send battleships to harass ships of countries sailing in international waters, and they clearly haveresources to care for their people. They have to change their priorities to put their people and their health in a higherposition than their desire to participate in terrorist campaigns in other countries," Pompeo stated.

The United States, Pompeo said, "will continue to do everything it can to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining money and wealthto build these programmes.”"Nothing has changed in this framework, and I believe that the whole world can see clearly that theAyatollahs and leadership in Iran have wealth, resources and capabilities; they have to changetheir intentions and use their resources to take care of the health and safety of the people."

On President Donald Trump’s announcement that he give orders to the US Navy not to tolerate Iranian naval ships provoking Americanships in the Gulf, Pompeo said that,“The president's statement this morning made it clear that we will protect ourselves. Those Iranian ships violated international law. They came too close to our vesselswhich were operating in international waters. The president has always made it clear that we will do everything weneed to do to make sure that our forces are as safe and secure as we can possibly make them."

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/367868.aspx