(December 4, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Portugal on Wednesday for a working dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The two were originally scheduled to meet in London on the sidelines of the annual NATO summit this week, but the venue was moved to Portugal after British officials nixed the meeting due to short notice.
Before boarding the plane at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Netanyahu praised the American administration for its tough stance on Iran.
“We’re seeing the Iranian empire totter,” Netanyahu said, referring to major recent protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon against the Iranian regime and its proxies. He lauded the United States for applying “tremendous pressures and sanctions on Iran,” and expressed his hope that all parties would “increase this pressure against Iranian aggression.”
Turning to Europe, Netanyahu lambasted Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden for joining France, Germany and the United Kingdom in the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) trade mechanism, a means by which nations can work around American sanctions against Iran by avoiding the use of the dollar.
“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Netanyahu said. “While people are risking their lives and dying on the streets of Tehran, they’re giving sustenance and support to this tyrannical regime. The tyrants of Tehran should not be supported now; they should be pressured.”
During his trip, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa and Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva.
Netanyahu said his meeting with Pompeo would focus on Iran, including Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and the Islamic Republic’s increased uranium enrichment, but that they would also discuss a potential defense pact between Israel and the United States, as well as Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu reportedly discussed these and other issues with U.S. President Donald Trump during a telephone conversation on Sunday.
After leaving Portugal, Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Morocco, where it is anticipated that he will encourage King Mohammed IV to normalize relations with Israel.
On Tuesday, Axios reported that Morocco is among a group of Arab countries being encouraged by the United States to sign non-belligerence agreements with Israel.
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