U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel early this morning, for a short 6-hour visit that focused on a series bilateral, regional and global challenges.
Upon arrival at the country’s Ben Gurion International Airport, the top American diplomat immediately traveled to Jerusalem, where he held his first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Prior to the meeting, Pompeo and Netanyahu held a short press briefing, during which the latter emphasized “We so deeply appreciate the fact that this is your first trip abroad in some time, that you’re are making it to Israel for six hours. I think this is a testament to the strength of our alliance, to the strength of President Trump’s commitment to the state of Israel and to the strength of your commitment to the state of Israel and our alliance, as well. So, I want to thank you for that too.”
Netanyahu further mentioned the historic significance of tomorrow’s date, May the 14th saying “Tomorrow marks 72 years from the recognition of President Truman of the state of Israel, of the young state of Israel; and, it also marks two years from another historic decision, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by President Trump. I think that these brackets, the tremendous partnership that we have, the friendship that we have, the great sympathies that the people of Israel and the people of American have with one another; your trip at this time, is a powerful expression of that.”
The Israeli leader went on to list the topics that were to be discussed with the top American diplomat behind closed doors, including the joint Israel-U.S. efforts to combat the spread and devastating implications of the coronavirus, as well as to counter another spreading plague across the Middle East, in reference to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Netanyahu said, “We have a lot to talk about. The first this is, the plague. The corona plague is something that challenges the entire world, our two countries and everyone else. And, we would like to talk about strengthening our cooperation, our partnerships in battling the coronavirus plague. The second this is that there is something else plaguing our region, which is unremitting Iranian aggression and terror, and I want to express our appreciation for the strong position that the president and you, and your administration, put forward again Iran; first, by withdrawing from the dangerous Iran deal; second, by taking head-on masters of Iranian terror; third, by… continuing the arms embargo against Iran that has not stopped for a minute its aggressive designs and its aggressive actions against Americans, Israelis and everyone else in the region. So, I want to express our appreciation for that, and also discuss how we can continue in our partnership to combat and confront and roll-back Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, in Syria, everywhere else.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted the anticipated establishment of the long-overdue Israeli national unity government, the swearing-in of which was postponed to tomorrow in order to accommodate the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo. “I think that this is an opportunity to promote peace and security, based on the understandings that I reached with President Trump in my last visit in Washington, in January.”
Secretary Pompeo, for his part, underscored “I always come here as a person of faith. It is fantastic when I came down the road today, I got to see some of the walls of the old city. It always reminds me of the historic nature of this place, and this very special, special city that we are in, today.” He went on by saying “We will certainly talk about the challenges the globe faces with COVID. Israeli technology, Israeli medical expertise, all the things that you and I, and our teams, can work on together. I know that we will deliver good outcomes and decrease risks for peoples all over the world from this global pandemic.”
The top American diplomat also seized the opportunity to vaguely condemn China’s apparent obfuscation of information that relates to the coronavirus, seemingly hindering the international community’s capacity to find a vaccine to the potentially deadly contagion. In his words, “You [Israel] are a great partner. You share information. Unlike some other countries [refers to China] that obfuscate and hide that information. We will talk about that country [China] too. Netanyahu: The most important thing is actually generating the information and then sharing it. Pompeo: Yes. That is right. Democracies do both of those incredibly well. Yes. Secondly, we will get a chance to talk about the vision for peace. We are now some months on from the day you came to Washington when President Trump announced the vision for peace when you were there. There remains work yet to do. And, we need to make progress on that. I am looking forward to it.”
With regard to the American-led efforts to contain the Islamic Republic’s malign activities across the Middle East, Secretary Pompeo emphasized that need to continue with the Trump Administrations maximum pressure campaign. “The campaign that we have been part of, to reduce the resources that the Ayatollah (regime) has, to inflict harm here in Israel and all across the world has borne fruit, has been successful, and we are going to stay at it. There is still work to do on that (Iran) file, as well. As you talked about, even during this pandemic, the Iranians using the Ayatollah’s, the regime’s resources, to foment terror across the world even when the people of Iran are struggling so modally. It tells you about the soul of those people who lead that country.”
Turning to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia announced that Moscow will veto any attempts by the United States to extend an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran, in addition to blocking the world body from possibly reimpose international sanctions of the Ayatollah regime.
In a video news conference, the Russian diplomat clarified his country’s intention, after Moscow has made its desire public to resume conventional weapons sales to Tehran, once the U.N. sanctions expire in October.