Pompeo says Iran must ‘tell the truth’ on spread of coronavirus
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Pompeo says Iran must ‘tell the truth’ on spread of coronavirus

Top US diplomat says Washington ‘deeply concerned’ by reports Tehran may have suppressed ‘vital details’ about scope of outbreak

People wearing protective masks wait along the side of a street in the Iranian capital Tehran on February 24, 2020 (Atta Kenare/AFP)
People wearing protective masks wait along the side of a street in the Iranian capital Tehran on February 24, 2020 (Atta Kenare/AFP)

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday demanded that Iran “tell the truth” about a coronavirus outbreak, voicing alarm at allegations of a cover-up.

“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington.

“All nations including Iran should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations,” he said.

Iran has reported 15 deaths from the epidemic, more than in any country other than China. Both countries are considered top adversaries by President Donald Trump’s administration.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news briefing at the State Department February 25, 2020 in Washington, DC (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

The Iranian government has pledged greater transparency after a lawmaker alleged that the clerical regime was playing down the outbreak and that the toll could be as high as 50.

Pompeo said that both China and Iran could have better contained coronavirus if they allowed free expression and he saluted foreign journalists who have reported on the epidemic.

“If China permitted its own important journals and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge,” Pompeo said.

People wearing protective masks wait at a bus station in the Iranian capital Tehran on February 24, 2020 (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Pompeo said that the United States had quarantined all people known to have contracted the virus and that Washington would take further “appropriate action” if needed.

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