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Trump says ready to help Iran with coronavirus if asked

By Agence France-Presse

US President Donald Trump said Saturday he was ready to aid Iran with its outbreak of novel coronavirus if the country asked for assistance.

"Something terrible happened," US President Donald Trump said as evidence mounts that Iranian air defenses may have accidentally shot down a Urkainian airliner killing 176 aboard (AFP / Nicholas Kamm / MANILA BULLETIN)

US President Donald Trump  (AFP / Nicholas Kamm / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“If we can help the Iranians with this problem, we are certainly willing to do so… All they have to do is ask. We will have great professionals over there,” Trump said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington.

The virus has now hit 61 countries across the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to raise its risk assessment to its highest level.

Iran’s health ministry on Saturday reported nine new deaths, taking the total to 43.

US authorities in the West Coast state of Washington meanwhile confirmed on Saturday the first fatality on American soil.

Trump imposed new restrictions on anyone who has traveled in the last two weeks to Iran, and urged Americans not to visit hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.

The US State Department said it had formally told Iran of the United States’ willingness to assist in unspecified ways through a message sent via Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran.

The United States, which has had no diplomatic ties with Iran since 1980, pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal with the country and reimposed crippling sanctions in 2018.

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