South China Morning Post By Agence France-Presse Mon., Mar.23, 2020
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 on Sunday, Khamenei described the United States as “charlatans” and charged that Washington could bring in a drug to keep the virus alive.
“Who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?” Khamenei said. “Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more.”
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 prioritises ideology over the Iranian people,” Pompeo said.
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.