Pompeo: U.S. has offered to help N. Korea with virus outbreak
By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Yonhap) -- The United States has offered humanitarian assistance to North Korea in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to seek to provide relief, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
Pompeo made the remark in an interview with Fox News Wednesday after Sean Hannity, the host of the show, suggested it would be helpful if the U.S. could assist countries such as Iran, Russia and China.
"As for Iran, the same true for North Korea, these are countries that we have deep differences with, and we are working diligently to create better conditions for their people," Pompeo said. "And part of that is to make sure that we're available to provide humanitarian assistance when we can. And so we have offered to both the North Koreans, as well as to the Iranian people, humanitarian assistance, and we've offered to facilitate humanitarian assistance coming into those countries from U.N. organizations, from other countries as well.
"We'll keep doing that," he added. "It's the right thing to do in a time of crisis."
Pompeo's remarks confirm comments made last week by Robert Destro, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor.
Destro told reporters that the U.S. has "reached out to North Korea, to Iran and to China, to everybody and said, 'Look, to the extent that we can be useful, we will try to be useful and provide assistance.'"
North Korea has yet to report a single case of COVID-19, but many suspect the regime could be covering up an outbreak.
Major outbreaks have occurred across its borders -- in China, where the disease first emerged in December, and in South Korea, which has confirmed 8,565 infections to date.
In an effort to keep the virus at bay, the regime has tightened its borders and toughened quarantine measures for people and imported goods.
Last month, the State Department expressed the United States' deep concern about the vulnerability of the North Korean people to a coronavirus outbreak and offered to facilitate the approval of assistance from U.S. and international aid organizations.
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