By Samuel Chamberlain
Published March 21, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Thursday that the United States would step up financial and political pressure on Iran's theocratic regime as it seeks to "extend its reach" across the Middle East.
"You've seen us now designate [Iran-backed] militias inside of Iraq [as terror groups]," Pompeo told "Fox News at Night" host Shannon Bream. "You've seen us designate senior leaders inside the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]. You've seen us designate financial institutions, financial agents engaged in moving illicit money in support of the Houthis [in Yemen], in support of Hamas, in support of Hezbollah. This administration has taken serious efforts across ... a broad range of efforts [by] Iran to extend its reach."
Pompeo spoke to Fox News from Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the latter's planned visit to the White House next week. The visit coincided with Trump's support for recognizing Israel's control of the disputed Golan Heights. Last week, the State Department dropped the phrase "Israeli-occupied" from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it "Israeli-controlled."
Pompeo's visit is likely to further infuriate Palestinians, who have already severed ties with the U.S. over Trump's decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem last year. However, the secretary of state expressed optimism that the Trump administration could broker a lasting peace agreement.
"This administration has created the conditions which ultimately may well get us to a place where we can achieve the very peace that everyone in the world wants," he said. "A better life for the Palestinian people, a better life and less conflict risk between the Palestinians and the Israelis."
Pompeo also discussed the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, where opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff was arrested and detained by disputed President Nicolas Marrero's intelligence forces.
"We think we understand how this went down, we think we understand those who were involved," Pompeo said. "We will make sure that the world knows who those people were. ... We will do all that we can to hold the individuals accountable, those who conducted this activity and those who ordered it.."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.