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Pompeo (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

The State Department announced Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Israel next week, confirming Wednesday's Axios report.

Why it matters: This will be Pompeo’s first trip abroad since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will come on the day Israel's new government is slated to be sworn in.

Israel has strict travel restrictions for people entering the country, including two weeks of isolation.

  • That will not apply to Pompeo, who will be the first senior foreign official to visit since the rules came into effect.
  • Dr. William Walters, the State Department’s deputy chief medical officer, said in a briefing with reporters that all medical precautions around the trip had been coordinated with the Israeli government, and Pompeo is not expected to enter quarantine.
  • Walters said everyone who will accompany Pompeo on his flight to Israel will be tested for COVID-19 two days before, and will wear a mask during the trip. Meanwhile, everyone who will come into contact with the U.S. delegation will be checked for symptoms.
  • Walters said Pompeo was being checked by doctors on a daily basis. He noted that the secretary of state would only be participating in meetings in controlled settings, and would not interact with the general population.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker stressed that the Israeli government had invited Pompeo, and said discussions had been underway before the date was set for Israel's new government to be sworn in.

  • The statement announcing the trip said Pompeo would discuss “regional security issues related to Iran’s malign influence” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-coalition-partner Benny Gantz.
  • Schenker refused to discuss the issue of possible West Bank annexations by the new government, saying only that a joint mapping committee was still working on the issue.

Go deeper

Aug 15, 2020 - World

Pompeo denounces U.N. Security Council for rejecting Iran arms embargo extension

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Austria on Aug. 14. Photo: Lisi Niesner/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the United Nations Security Council's Friday decision rejecting a U.S. resolution to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran, saying the council "failed ... to hold Iran accountable."

Why it matters: The council voted to allow a 13-year embargo designed to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons, including aircraft and tanks, to expire this October, despite protests from the U.S., Israel and multiple Arab states, the New York Times reports.

Aug 16, 2020 - World

Mike Pompeo signs deal to send U.S. troops from Germany to Poland

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signed an agreement on Saturday that paves the way for an increased presence of U.S. troops in the European country.

Why it matters: The deal is a part of the Trump administration's plan to withdraw some 12,000 troops from Germany and redeploy about 5,400 of them to other European countries.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.