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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed President Trump's threat to target Iranian cultural sites, declining to disavow the president's tweet on the Sunday cable talk shows but stating repeatedly that the U.S. would behave within the rules of the system.

"George, I've seen what we are planning in terms of the target set. ... The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed at the singular mission of protecting and defending America. President Trump has been diligent about that. He doesn't want war."
— Mike Pompeo on ABC's "This Week"

Why it matters: Trump's warning about cultural sites prompted immediate outrage from Iranian officials, who accused the president of flouting international law and threatening war crimes.

  • United Nations resolution 2347, which the U.S. supported in 2017, "condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage," including religious sites and artifacts.

The big picture: The Trump administration has repeatedly emphasized that its principal goal is de-escalation and that the Qasem Soleimani strike was carried out to “stop a war.” Rhetoric like this suggests the off-ramp to a hot conflict may be fading.

  • Pressed on this by CNN's Jake Tapper, Pompeo said: "We have provided [Iran] clear guidance about what it is we have as an expectation. ... It is important that they understand that America will no longer behave the way that it did during the Obama/Biden administration. We will no longer appease."

Go deeper: Iran calls Trump a "terrorist in a suit" after attack threat

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

The week markets went wild

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio

The markets just closed out a manic week.

Why it matters: Outsized — and in some cases historic — moves were evident across the board.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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