Archive for May 7, 2020

Pompeo planning trip to Israel despite coronavirus restrictions 

May 7, 2020

Source: Pompeo planning trip to Israel despite coronavirus restrictions – Axios

Pompeo (R) with Netanyahu last year. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to travel to Israel next week for a 24-hour visit, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This will be the first visit of a senior foreign official to Israel since coronavirus travel restrictions came into place. This will also be Pompeo’s first trip abroad since the crisis became a global pandemic.

Pompeo is expected to arrive next Tuesday and return to Washington the next day, Israeli officials tell me.

  • The trip would come days before Israel’s new government is slated to be sworn in, and Pompeo is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, his rival-turned-coalition-partner.
  • It’s unclear why Pompeo is planning to travel in person, or how the visit could be impacted by Israel’s social distancing restrictions and emergency regulations which demand that any person arriving from abroad enter 2 weeks of confinement.
  • State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the department has “no trips to announce right now.”

Update: Pompeo was asked about this report during a press briefing on Wednesday morning.

“I don’t have any travel to confirm, but I think in the upcoming hours and days you’ll see an announcement. We’re hoping to get back out and be on the ground to do the things the State Department needs to do — that we need to physically be located in those places for. We’re hoping we can get that started up before too long. It’ll start off smaller but we’re hoping to get back at it.”

 

Iran approves plan to cut four zeros from falling currency -report

May 7, 2020

Ha ha ha, sucks to be you, Iran.

156,000 rials per USD on unofficial markets? Used to be around 30,000 to the USD in 2017.

https://www.reuters.com/article/iran-currency/iran-approves-plan-to-cut-four-zeros-from-falling-currency-report-idUSL8N2CM1E9

DUBAI, May 4 (Reuters) – Iran’s parliament has passed a bill allowing the government to slash four zeros from the rial, Iranian state media reported on Monday, after a sharp fall in the value of the currency as a result of crippling U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s national currency will be changed from the rial to the Toman, which is equal to 10,000 rials, under the bill.

“The bill to remove four zeros from the national currency was approved by lawmakers,” Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA reported. The bill needs to be approved by the clerical body that vets legislation before it takes effect.

Iran’s state TV said the Central Bank of Iran will have two years to “pave the ground to change the currency to Toman”.

The idea of removing four zeros has been floated since 2008, but gained strength after 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions, as the rial lost more than 60% of its value.

The Iranian currency was trading at about 156,000 rials per dollar on the unofficial market on Monday, according to foreign exchange websites.

Iran’s weak currency and high inflation have led to sporadic street protests since late 2017.