Coronavirus: Americans abroad must return to US ‘immediately’, Pompeo says

Top American diplomat declines to say whether US officials think new Chinese government COVID-19 figures are accurate

John T. Bennett
Tuesday 31 March 2020 16:50 BST
Trump dismisses coronavirus testing problems in conference call

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Americans abroad who still wish to return to the United States to do so “immediately,” saying commercial and government-chartered flights could soon cease amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We don’t know how long commercial flights will ... operate,” Mr Pompeo said Tuesday, adding it is not a sure thing that flights being chartered by the US government specifically for Americans to return home due to COVID-19 fears will be available in some countries.

Donald Trump’s top diplomat urged any Americans abroad who want to get back to US soil to contact the American embassy in the country where they currently are to begin making plans “immediately” to get a flight back to the States.

Asked if US officials trust new data being shared about coronavirus cases and deaths inside China by that country’s government, Mr Pompeo declined to comment. He said he would leave such assessments to US government experts who have been closely monitoring and evaluating Chinese-provided data for some time.

Meantime, when asked about the situation in Afghanistan, Mr Pompeo said the Trump administration expect Taliban officials to live up to the terms of a recent peace pact. He is basing that assessment on recent meetings with the group’s leaders he had in Doha, Qatar.

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