US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is “possible” that President Donald Trump was sent by God to save the Jewish people from Iran.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network during a high-profile trip to Israel, he said it was his faith that made him believe that.
He also praised US efforts to “make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains”.
The comments came on a Jewish holiday celebrating rescue from genocide.
The holiday, Purim, commemorates the rescue of the Jewish people by Queen Esther from the Persians, as the interviewer noted to Mr Pompeo.
He was asked if “President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace”.
“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” said Mr Pompeo, a former Kansas senator and CIA director.
“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” he added.
Since becoming president, Mr Trump has sought a hard-line stance against Iran.
In May 2018, Mr Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, calling it “a horrible one-sided deal”.
Also on Thursday, Mr Trump announced a change in US policy toward the Golan Heights, saying that the territory Israel has occupied from Syria since 1967 should be recognised as part of Israel.
During Mr Pompeo’s tour of the Middle East, he came under fire for holding a conference call and only inviting “faith-based” members of the media to join.
In recent days, Mr Trump has accused his Democratic rivals of being “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish”.
The president is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, when he is in Washington to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) annual meeting.
The remarks by Mr Pompeo, and the Golan announcement by Mr Trump, come just weeks before Israeli elections are held on 9 April.
Pompeo says God may have sent Trump to save Israel from Iran