Secretary Michael R. Pompeo At the “Thank You America” Memorial

11 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Pilsen, Czech Republic

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, good afternoon and welcome, everyone.

Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister, Mayor.  It’s delightful to be here in Pilsen today.

And thank you also to the citizens of Pilsen and the Czech people for honoring our American soldiers with this remarkable memorial.  One of the inscriptions says that, “We will never forget.”

Indeed, we’re keeping that memory alive through this ceremony today.

Seventy-five years ago, our fighting men, led by the great General Patton, cut the Nazi shackles off of Western Czechoslovakia.  I was once a young cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain.  I saw what real tyranny looks like up close.  I can only imagine the joy, the absolute joy, when American tanks and jeeps came rumbling into Pilsen 30 years ago – obviously 75 years ago.

But it was 30 years ago when Ambassador Shirley Temple Black laid this memorial’s founding stone alongside Vaclav Havel.  It was the first time after decades of communist rule and Soviet domination that Czechs and Americans were able openly to commemorate the U.S. military’s role in your liberation.  It is truly special and a great tribute that you continue to honor those soldiers here today.

I remember reading about this country’s invasion by the Soviet troops in 1968 and the courageous Czechs and Slovaks who fought for freedom here in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The principles that they fought for – for democracy, for freedom, for the rule of law, respect for human rights, market economies, a return to the West – are the same ones that motivated American troops during World War II and that unite our countries to this day.

It’s worth remembering as we – even as we celebrate, that because authoritarianism is still alive in Beijing and in Moscow and Tehran, there remains work to do.

Thankfully – thankfully – the Czech Republic is alive.  It’s alive and free to help secure the legacy of freedom, democracy, and security that this memorial represents.  That work – that work to extend the blessings of liberty – also honors the soldiers remembered here.

I wanted to be here today to share with you, so that you would know that whether through this memorial, through Pilsen’s annual Liberation Festival, or your country’s continued commitment to NATO, the American people thank you.  We thank you.  We thank you for your partnership.  (Applause.)  We thank you for all you do for freedom.  We thank our Czech friends for holding our fallen countrymen in your hearts, now and always.

Thank you and may God bless you.  (Applause.).

 

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Chad’s Independence Day

11 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States and the American people, I congratulate the Chadian people on the 60th anniversary of your independence.

The United States and Chad have long worked together in concert with international partners to strengthen regional security, protect refugees, and promote stronger economic ties between our countries. We wish the people of Chad success with your upcoming legislative and presidential elections, and peace and prosperity in the coming year.

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Chad’s Independence Day

11 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States and the American people, I congratulate the Chadian people on the 60th anniversary of your independence.

The United States and Chad have long worked together in concert with international partners to strengthen regional security, protect refugees, and promote stronger economic ties between our countries. We wish the people of Chad success with your upcoming legislative and presidential elections, and peace and prosperity in the coming year.

 

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Sean Spicer of Newsmax TV’s Spicer & Co

11 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, welcome to the show.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sean, it’s great to be with you.  Thanks for having me on.

QUESTION:  You bet.  Before I get into the questions, I just want to say I think there’s three groups in America when it comes to politicians:  people who have their head in the sand when it comes to China, people who talk a good game, and people who are willing to do what it takes to fight China.  You are in that later category, and I want to make sure viewers understand for too long we’ve heard people talk about China; you’re finally doing something about China.  And I appreciate it and I think people need to understand that.  So thank you for what you’re doing.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, thank you.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, China is clearly on a rampage these days.  Jimmy Lai, the pro-democracy voice and media tycoon in Hong Kong, was arrested under orders from Beijing.  Now China is putting sanctions on 11 U.S. citizens, including Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley.  How is the U.S. going to respond to this?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So, Sean, I think everybody needs to recognize that the Chinese Communist Party for decades now has taken advantage of America.  That’s the starting point:  50 years of failed policy where we thought if we just engage, if we’re nice to them, if we do business with them, then somehow they’ll leave us be.  Well, we know that’s not been the case.  It didn’t work.  I gave some remarks about that a couple weeks back at the Nixon Library.

And President Trump knew it.  He campaigned on this very issue.  He said we’re going to just – we just want this to be fair.  We don’t mean anything ill-willed towards the Chinese people, but the Chinese Communist Party has been walking on the United States for decades and we’re not going to let that happen, enough.

And so we’ve begun to push back in ways that are real, that protect the American people.  You see it with what we’re doing on Chinese software.  You see it with what we’re doing in terms of diplomats here who were conducting spying out of our consulate in Houston.  The President has permitted us to seriously respond in ways that simply say be fair, be reciprocal, whether it’s trade or whether it’s diplomats or whether it’s information campaigns, misinformation campaigns, the United States is no longer going to simply turn the other cheek and let Americans suffer for it.

We’re going to respond in real ways so that the actions they’ve taken with respect to Jimmy Lai and the sanctions that they have nebulously imposed on some senior American officials in Congress, you can be sure the United States will measure them, respond to them, and help the Chinese Communist Party understand you’re not going to take action against America or Americans without President Trump responding.

QUESTION:  Could you foresee a ban on all Chinese officials and business folks, much like we had during the Soviet Union during the Cold War days?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I try not to get ahead of what the President is thinking about, but make no mistake:  We have a long list of actions that we are contemplating that will simply drive the Chinese Communist Party to understand that when you treat Americans poorly, when you steal our intellectual property, when you threaten our people all across the world – you know under this new national security law they’ve now come after at least two American citizens – when you conduct a human rights violation on the scale you are doing in the western part of the country with respect to the Uyghurs, when you do those things, America is no longer going to stand idly by and President Trump is going to be cost imposing with the objective to ask them to do the right thing.

We’re going to distrust and then we’re going to go verify, and we aim to induce change in the Chinese Communist Party’s behavior.  It’s that straightforward.  America’s people deserve it and our national security demands it.

QUESTION:  You mentioned the line that you just used.  It was the inverse of a Reagan line that you used at the Nixon Library when you gave that speech.  Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”  You said, “Distrust, but verify” when it comes to China.

China has given us a lot, right?  They’ve given us cheap goods and a lot of lies.  Why should we believe anything that they have to say?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Broken promises is the main storyline.  We all know that, Sean.  You know communism.  We all grew up in the time when the communist ideology was spreading rapidly throughout the Soviet Union and its satellite states.  We know that they have a bias towards untruth, and here it’s in spades.

We saw them break the promise, the commitments they made to the people of Hong Kong.  We’ve watched them break promises to the World Health Organization that have now caused hundreds of thousands of people all across the world to suffer from a virus that began in Wuhan, China, right.  They said they’d tell the world if they came upon a virus that could potentially breed a pandemic around the world, and yet they didn’t.  Instead of telling the world, they covered up.  They allowed their citizens to travel abroad.

They created real risk, and that risk has now caused enormous devastation not only to the lives, as I mentioned, but to trillions of dollars in lost economic value to the world – lots of jobs, lots of people who will suffer because of the promises the Chinese Communist Party failed to keep.

You have to distrust them.  You have to challenge everything that they say.  You need to go verify it when they make a promise.  And when they do that, when they make a commitment and they verify it, we’ll applaud them.  But we’re no longer going to stand by and allow them to take actions that threaten us all.

QUESTION:  Finally.  That’s great to hear.  President Trump and you guys have targeted Chinese companies like TikTok, WeChat, and Huawei for potentially spying on the U.S.  You closed a consulate the other day because of potential copyright infringement and espionage.  Do we have hard evidence that these companies or other U.S. companies are spying on the U.S. or U.S. businesses?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s very simple, Sean.  Every one of those companies has an obligation to the party – not to the nation but to the Chinese Communist Party – that says if you want to go operate overseas, you must be prepared to turn over information.  We know a lot more than that.  I can’t say a whole heck of a lot about it.  But make no mistake about it:  The United States is aware that these companies are being used for China’s national security purposes, and we just simply think that’s unacceptable.  There’s too many kids out on TikTok with all their data, all their information, their location, lots of pieces of information about them that no parent wants the Chinese Communist Party to have in its hands.  And we’re going to do the right thing to protect each of those young people who are out there using Chinese software that the Chinese Communist Party is using for nefarious purposes.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, if a parent is listening to this right now and their child likes making fun videos on TikTok and they don’t think it’s a problem, what’s your message to those parents?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Just know this:  This isn’t as innocent as it appears.  We all have come accustomed to American companies providing good entertainment value to our kids.  Frankly, I was frustrated by how much time my son spent on various technology tools.  But wholly apart from the parenting challenge, this is different in kind.  This is the Chinese Communist Party using data sets for purposes of their own national security.

Every parent needs to be mindful that when you hand over data, whether that’s your address or a credit card number or your driver’s license or your age or the school that you go to, or even just your name and put your face in front of that camera, you are creating opportunities for the company that’s on the other side of that software.  And when that company is owned by the Chinese Communist Party or is a Chinese company that is beholden and operates at only the good grace of the Chinese Communist Party, there is a good chance that all of that information will end up in the hands of people I don’t think any parent wants their kids’ data to be part of.

QUESTION:  Yeah, I don’t think many parents fully appreciate what you’re communicating in terms of how dangerous it is.

Let me switch gears for a moment to Taiwan.  Right now the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is in Taiwan.  It has an excellent record of dealing with the coronavirus.  China is quite angry about this trip.  Would you say that we’re sending a message to Beijing with the visit of Secretary Azar, or is this much larger of a shift in favor of Taiwan over the mainland?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So Secretary Azar is there for the singular purpose of working with the Taiwanese Government on something that’s important to everyone in the world – making sure we come to understand this Wuhan virus, to make sure we understand the threat, to make sure we know how Taiwan so successfully dealt with this issue in their own country.  We want to share with them what we’ve learned, what we know too.  We know an awful lot about this.  That was the purpose of his visit.

I must say, Sean, I’m always surprised that when the United States sends its health minister to another country why anyone would find that so threatening.  He went there for the noble humanitarian purpose of reducing risk to citizens all across the world, including Chinese citizens.  When they have to hide, it seems pretty weak when the mere presence of a health minister in a particular place working to defeat this global pandemic you find threatening or you find angering or you find somehow challenging to your very nation’s national security.  I think that tells you a lot about the weakness of the Chinese Communist Party and the fact that it could feel threatened from such a visit.

QUESTION:  Well, speaking of that threatenedness , if China were to make provocative actions towards either Taiwan or its outlining islands, where is that red line for the U.S. in terms of us going in and defending Taiwan?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, Sean, this is obviously a very sensitive issue.  The President has talked about this a great deal.  We have a series of commitments and a series of understandings, commitments that we’ve made to China as well.  We thoroughly intend to uphold our obligations and commitments with respect to the historical understandings between the United States and China on Taiwan.  The Secretary’s visit is – Secretary Azar’s visit is wholly consistent with those commitments, and we’ve told both the Chinese and the Taiwanese that we are going to continue to abide by that set of understandings.  It’s enshrined in U.S. law as well, so it’s an obligation that we do so.  I am confident that we’ll continue to keep up those promises.

That’s the difference, Sean, right?  When we make promises, we live up to them or we do our darn best to do so.  When the Chinese Communist Party makes promises around the world, it’s solely for their benefit; and when those promises are no longer of any value, they walk away from them.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, before I let you go, I want to get your comments on something that National Security Advisor O’Brien said, where intelligence proves that China favors a Joe Biden administration.  How concerned are you that China is going to get involved in this election to try to get a Biden outcome?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, Sean, the entire national security team – that certainly includes the State Department, but our intelligence agencies, our FBI, Department of Homeland Security – who is responsible to conduct free and fair elections here inside the United States, I am very confident we’ll deliver that.

Having said that, make no mistake:  It is the case that the Iranians, the Chinese, the Russians too, are engaged in influence operations here in the United States.  We have a responsibility to take down that misinformation, to share with the American people the risks that are connected to that.  And it should be unsurprising to anyone that the Chinese Communist Party has seen what we’ve just talked about for a good long time here – the fundamental shift that President Trump has taken with respect to China, no longer tolerating their misbehavior and the risk they’re creating to the United States.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that they would prefer a president that didn’t take that approach.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your time.  I want to thank you for everything you’re doing to stand up to China, because it’s so important.  The threat that they pose to this country and to all of our citizens is so understated, and I know how hard you fight every day to make sure that the U.S. interests are protected.  So thank you for everything that you’re doing.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sean, thank you.  That’s very kind.  God bless you.  Have a great day.

QUESTION:  You too.  Thank you.?

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union for CPAC

10 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

QUESTION:  Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of CPAC Live.  What a great show we have for you today.  We’re going to have with us our great Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and then after what will hopefully be a really interesting conversation with the Secretary, a follow-up with Katie Pavlich, who has been covering the Secretary’s really historic work very closely, and we’re going to have a conversation about what’s going on in the world and how President Trump and his policies are changing the way we think about globalism and our approach to our allies overseas.

But first, we want to immediately bring into the conversation the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  How are you, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Matt, I’m great.  I hope you’re doing well.  Thanks for having me on today.  I’m looking forward to our conversation a great deal.

QUESTION:  We are doing great, and – but the world is still obviously a troubled place.  We’re so happy that you’re there at the State Department implementing the President’s approach to how we should rethink some of these big questions around the globe, but first I have to ask you:  A lot of people don’t realize how grueling the job of Secretary of State is.  You’ve got to get on that plane and go everywhere all over the world at a moment’s notice all the time.  You have to keep your diplomatic cheer even when you really don’t want to.  And you’ve been doing it for a long time.  What motivates you every morning to get up and do this job?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Oh, Matt, it’s a great question, and I think you know; you’ve had the chance to serve in a presidential administration.  Every day I get up with the intention of – quite clearly of executing on what the American people have asked us to do.  They elected President Trump, who has a fundamentally different understanding of making sure that American people are safe, that we’re taking care of America’s commercial and economic prosperity.  President Trump took a very different view.

Our policies have changed dramatically from the previous eight years, and I get the chance every day to go around the world and not only talk about that, but provide assistance helping other countries understand how, if they partner with America and do it in the right way, their prosperity, their lives of their people will be better, and that’ll redound to the benefit of us right back here at home in the United States.

QUESTION:  Now, we’ve had a lot of different kinds of people, obviously, have this important job; obviously, Thomas Jefferson on down.  What is unique about you is you come to the job as Secretary of State – yes, you were elected to Congress and you had a conservative voting record in Congress, you were at the CIA.  But you have a lot of business experience which is unusual in this post.  How has that helped you?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, it’s true, Matt.  I turn to that all the time.  Your folks know too; the President has a lot of business experience.

QUESTION:  Yes.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We’ve got – our entire national security team, right – Secretary Mnuchin, Attorney General Barr came from the business world too, spent a lot of time there.  It’s important because in the end, our foreign policy is as powerful as the American capacity for innovation, creativity, all the things that have really been at the center of America’s exceptionalism.  We have a set of values and principles founded in our Constitution, but our capacity for creating prosperity around the world gives me an enormous leg up.

I think about what President Trump has unleashed in the energy space, and now when I travel to the Middle East or to Europe, they know that America is self-sufficient with regard to its energy needs, and we have the capacity to deliver them affordable energy so their people can have electricity and the things that every person around the world is crying out for.  That opportunity that President Trump has created here domestically for our innovation and creativity and productivity gives me enormous leverage as I try to make sure that we protect Americans all around the world.

QUESTION:  So it’s like a mirror image when I think of the communist government of China.  In America, what you’re saying is our foreign policy is – one of the foundations of it is making sure that we have a vibrant free market economy.  China is really involved in business too; the difference is the communist government seems to own all these state-owned enterprises and these big corporate entities in their country.  Give us your perspective about how their system is so much different and so problematic.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So President Trump, when he campaigned, talked about the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party – I remember it so well – back in 2015 and 2016.  And we set about changing what’s really now coming on four decades of history where the idea was that if we engaged, Americans would be better off.  And while there have certainly been commercial benefits that have flowed from that, the risk to the American people is significant.

And so President Trump has essentially told the Chinese Communist Party, look, we welcome the Chinese people being successful, we want them to have good lives too, but not at the expense of America, not at the expense of American farmers, American businesses, not at the expense of having our intellectual property created by – Matt, you know these people who go to work every day and then come up with a good idea, a business practice, a policy, some kind of intellectual property, and then have it stolen by the Chinese Government.  President Trump has simply said we’re not going to tolerate that anymore, the Chinese Communist Party denying basic freedoms to their own people has a upstream impact on freedom all around the world.

And you see it with the software that China has put here in the United States; all these things impact us here at home, and President Trump has said enough.  And so we have shifted.  We have shifted from a policy of appeasement and engagement to one that says, look, we want to find places to work with you, but we’re going to distrust but verify.  We’re going to make sure we protect the American people from the challenges that the Chinese Communist Party has presented across the broad range of activities that they’re engaged in.

They have a different ideology, Matt.  You know this, right?  Communists have a different view of how the world ought to work, and I want and I know you want and President Trump wants to make sure that this next century is not a century that is governed by authoritarian regimes emanating from China.

QUESTION:  I love how you say we tried appeasement for four years, we thought we’ll be nice, we’ll invite them in, they’ll change, come our way.  After you give that a whole lifetime to work and it doesn’t work, you get tougher.  And you guys very specifically have gotten tougher.  You put sanctions out there, you’ve taken stronger steps.  Are there any specifics you want to kind of highlight to our CPAC community of the things you’ve done and the things you’re thinking about doing?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Matt, it’s important to understand that the activity that we’ve taken with respect to them is founded in our constitutional principles, right?  This is where it all begins for President Trump and our foreign policy, the central underpinnings of America and our prosperity and security.  And so whether that is the trade agreement that the President entered into demanding that China behave in a way that’s fair and reciprocal, whether it’s the work we did – and you saw the other day that we demanded that the Chinese close down a facility in Houston where they were spying on us here from the United States.  We’ve known about it for too long, and we simply didn’t want to push back, and President Trump said fine, this is the time.

These are the kinds of activities – I’ll give another example.  In our schools, you’ve seen the Department of Justice and the FBI begin to take action that says it’s fine if there’s a Chinese student that wants to come study here, but they can’t be connected to the Chinese state and the People’s Liberation Army, and when they are, we’re going to find out if they lied, and if they committed a crime, we’ll prosecute them, and if not, we’re going to just ask them – tell them they need to get back home.

This is the way we protect American educational institutions.  All of the things that people all across America know are right, President Trump is actually delivering on, and our State Department is working to implement on behalf of the American people.

QUESTION:  As an aside, if a – I won’t make you comment on this, but if some of our universities doesn’t think a ROTC program is appropriate on a campus, it’s hard to see how someone attached to the PLA is appropriate.  But that’s my comment, not yours.  But I applaud that policy.

Then you have this question about fundamental freedoms, and I think we all woke up with the horrific news about Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong, who we consider to be a great freedom fighter.  I think you know that he invited CPAC into his home in Hong Kong, and we had a delightful meal that ended early in the hours with a firebombing of his house because we had been there.  What’s your – obviously you’re trying to make sure that there’s a better result in Hong Kong, but you’ve taken some steps.  What should the American people think when they look at this news this morning?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Really sad.  Jimmy Lai was nothing more than a patriot who wanted good things for the people of Hong Kong.  He wanted basic freedoms.  These were the freedoms, Matt – you know, you had a chance to meet him there; I had a chance to meet him here in the United States – these are just the basic freedoms that every human being, because they’re made in the image of God, is entitled to.  And that’s all they were asking for and it’s all, frankly, that they wanted.  The Chinese Communist Party had promised them that they would have that when they entered into the agreement with Britain, and now the Chinese Communist Party has decided no, Hong Kong’s going to just simply be another communist city.

So what we have tried to do is create a set of incentives for the Chinese Communist Party to rethink how they’re approaching this.  I’m not optimistic, given what we saw this morning and what we’ve seen over the past week, that they’re going to change what they’re doing.  But what we can be sure, and President Trump has said, is that to the extent the Chinese Communist Party treats Hong Kong as just another communist-run city, the United States will do the same.  We’re not going to allow Beijing to benefit from the harm they’re imposing on the people of Hong Kong.

Our United Kingdom counterparts have done great work.  They’re going to allow people from Hong Kong who want to come to Britain to come there, people who have denied these just fundamental, basic freedoms.  I hope that the Chinese Communist Party will reconsider and allow the promises they made to the Hong Kong people to come through, but you saw – goodness, it was last week now, I think, when they declared that they were going to delay their election.  They would have been crushed.  Freedom would have won in the election, Matt, and the Chinese Communist Party couldn’t permit that to happen.  I fear that we may have had our last democratic election in Hong Kong.  I hope that I’m wrong about that.

QUESTION:  Well, you’re being a realist, which we very much appreciate.  And one of the things that they’ve also announced is they’ve actually barred several senators from travel to China and taken other steps.  I read through the list this morning, it was interesting – all Republican senators and a Republican member of the House of Representatives.  Is there truly no bipartisan consensus that when China does these – takes these horrific acts against human rights, like arresting Jimmy Lai, is there not a bipartisan consensus to push back?  Or should I be more hopeful?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’m actually more hopeful on this, Matt.  When the legislation was passed, the Hong Kong Democracy Act, it was passed near unanimously, both parties.  When the issue in the West about how religious minorities are being treated in the western part of China – this is truly tragic, over a million people living in conditions that remind us of what happened back in the 1930s, right – forced sterilizations, imprisonment, internment, a really disastrous scenario that when legislation came up in Congress to sanction individuals involved in that, it was bipartisan.  I think nearly every member of Congress from both parties voted for it.

I think with respect to the challenges that the communist party’s presenting in China, I actually think there’s good overlap, but it’s the case this policy was driven by President Trump.  He was the one who was prepared to rip the band-aid off, acknowledge that the policies of the past decades had not been successful, and demand that the Chinese Communist Party behave in a way that is consistent with simple things like the rule of law and transparency and reciprocity.  Those fundamental principles are inescapable demands that we intend to impose upon the Chinese Communist Party.  We hope they’ll do it, and if not, we’re going to demand that they do.

QUESTION:  The – we talked a lot about in this country facing the threat of radical Islamic terror post-9/11 and changing a lot of policies in the government.  The Trump administration continues to keep its eye on these terrorists and terrorist organizations and terrorist regimes.  Tell us, give us the status of what a threat the regime in Iran is to peace and stability around the world.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So Matt, Iran sadly remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.  President Trump came in and recognized that underwriting that regime was a bad policy.

QUESTION:  Bad.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  That’s what the JCPOA had done; it essentially allowed businesses to operate there, allowing the regime to continue its corrupt theocracy.  President Trump said no, we’re not going to do that.  We walked away from the JCPOA, and then we began to impose real costs on the regime.  And it’s had an impact.  It’s reduced the capacity for them to conduct terror around the world.  I could spend a lot of time talking about the Shia militias in Iraq and what’s taking place in Syria and Hizballah.  They are diminished; it’s harder for them to pay their soldiers, pay their people around the world.

There’s still work to do, and we aim to do it.  One of the true tragedies of the JCPOA was that it was very limited in time.  A major provision expires now on October 18th, so just a couple months off, where Iran, under a deal that President Obama and Vice President Biden signed off on, can buy and sell weapons all around the world – on October 18th of this year.  We’re going to try and stop that.  We’re trying to extend that arms embargo.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be successful, but this is the kind of terror risk that the previous administration simply refused to take on, and President Trump has been clear:  We killed Qasem Soleimani, took down Hamza bin Laden, we took down al-Baghdadi.  This administration’s been most serious about protecting the American people from terrorism.  We’ll continue that effort.

QUESTION:  The biggest threat to peace and security around the globe is not global climate change.  Under President Trump, it seems like you are clear-eyed, wide-eyed about what our threats are – a aggressive regime in China, radical Islamic terror regimes around the globe.  We appreciate very much you kind of resetting that – those ideas.  Mr. Secretary, you’re also a well-trained lawyer – you probably don’t want to say that too loudly but it’s the truth.  And when you look at the American experience with democracy – this idea of federalism, of individual rights and separation of powers – and you go around the globe and you see all these authoritarian regimes and all of these strongmen and all of these governments that too easily trample on the rights of the individual, and you come back and you look at this conversation in America about is America a good place, is America a rotten place, is America a place of hate or is America a place where the individual really can live their beautiful American life, give us a – more of a philosophical overview.  Is this a moment when America really needs to stand up and be proud of its history or is it a different time?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Matt, when I came to the State Department, I recognized the centrality of the question that you just asked, so I undertook a couple things.  One was to put a woman named Mary Ann Glendon in charge of a commission to look at human rights issues around the world and how America should think about these unalienable rights.  They came back with a report a few weeks ago now, and it reminded me – it reminded me of the importance of the fact that this is the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization.  And whatever challenges we may have on any given day, there’s no nation that has the capacity to protect the freedoms that matter to every human being.

And so we – the commission wrote about this.  They talked about our Declaration of Independence and our founding.  They talked about our Constitution and how it was drafted, right.  The Soviet Union had a bill of rights, too.  It was worthless because it didn’t have a structure around it, it didn’t have a system.  It didn’t have, as you described, right, bicameral legislature, federalism, all the elements that drive us ever closer to that more perfect union.  As the Secretary of State, it is imperative that these things continue here in America.

We were not a nation that was founded on the central idea of slavery.  We’re not a nation that says when the left takes to the streets that they can destroy the First Amendment and say no we’re not going to let certain people have their voices be said.  This is a challenging time, which demands us to hew even more closely to the things that our founders knew.  This Judeo-Christian foundation for our nation is so central to the work that I do around the world and my capacity to be effective, to convince others of the importance of respecting the rights of their people, that I am – I’m very, very much hopeful that the American people will see this, they will come to understand that they live in this special place.  I promise you, all around the world when people are deciding where they want to go if they leave their own country, they want to come to the United States for the very reasons that you and I both know, Matt.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  And the final question, as we let you get back to settling all these really important issues – what we found with our kind of humble and meek aspect of global travel, where we had these CPACs in five different important parts of the globe last year.  Unfortunately with the virus we’re not doing that travel, but we will again next year.  What I’ve – with – the big take-away I got is when people overseas who are freedom-loving see America in a conflict about what America stands for – will America still stand for the freedoms it has always stood for – it really jars them, it worries them.  Because even in places that we don’t always automatically think love America, they actually love a strong America more than we’ll ever know.  Do you have the same type of reaction at a much higher level than we have it?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Matt, I do.  You should know that the people of every nation watch closely what we do here in the United States.  And we’ve had conflict before.  We’ve often had vigorous debates here in the United States.  It is very important that we demonstrate to the world for all the right reasons that America remains strong, that America remains committed.  We’ll get right our commitments around the world.  We’re not going to think about them the way we did for the past 20 years, but America as a leader, as an exemplar on the world stage, will remain.  And that is vital for people all across the world.  It’s exactly the same thing you’re hearing when you meet with people as you travel around the world.  I see it every day.

QUESTION:  And I want you to know we appreciate you making time for us.  Our CPAC community is very proud of what you’re accomplishing.  They’re – been proud of you – you have accomplished great things throughout your public career, and I want you to know, having just come back from Wichita, Kansas, having just had prime rib at the Candle, that when you’re done with this work there’s a good meal waiting for you there, okay?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’ll meet you at the Candle.  That sounds great, Matt.

QUESTION:  That’s a deal, Mr. Secretary.  Keep up the great work.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.

 

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Presidential Elections in Belarus

10 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States is deeply concerned about the conduct of the August 9 presidential election in Belarus, which was not free and fair. Severe restrictions on ballot access for candidates, prohibition of local independent observers at polling stations, intimidation tactics employed against opposition candidates, and the detentions of peaceful protesters and journalists marred the process. We regret that OSCE/ODIHR observers did not receive a timely invitation to monitor the vote. Free and fair elections, genuinely contested, are the basis for the authority and legitimacy of all governments.

We urge the Belarusian government to respect the rights of all Belarusians to participate in peaceful assembly, refrain from use of force, and release those wrongfully detained. We strongly condemn ongoing violence against protesters and the detention of opposition supporters, as well as the use of internet shutdowns to hinder the ability of the Belarusian people to share information about the election and the demonstrations.

As friends of Belarus, we support Belarusian independence and sovereignty, as well as the aspirations of the Belarusian people for a democratic, prosperous future. To achieve these goals, the Government of Belarus must prove through action its commitment to democratic processes and respect for human rights.

 

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Ecuador’s National Day

10 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States and the American people, I send warm greetings to the Ecuadorian people as you celebrate the 211th anniversary of your declaration of independence.

Even as Ecuador confronts the impact of COVID-19 on its people and economy, it remains a steadfast partner of the United States in the hemisphere and serves as a beacon of hope for refugees from Venezuela.  We stand proudly by Ecuadorians in the fight against the pandemic, and look forward to emerging together from this challenge even more strong and prosperous.

President Moreno’s visit to the White House earlier this year reaffirmed that the long-standing partnership and cooperation between Ecuador and the United States will continue on key issues such as regional security, human rights, and economic development.  Working together to deepen trade ties, defend democracy, promote human rights, and fight illegal narcotics benefits both our countries.

I extend my best wishes for health and prosperity to the people of Ecuador on this anniversary of your declaration of independence.

 

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Russian Decree Targeting RFE/RL and Voice of America in Russia

10 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States is deeply concerned by the recent draft decree published by Russian authorities targeting U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)-funded entities in Russia. For more than 70 years, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) have been vital sources of independent news and information for the people of Russia. This decree will impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit RFE/RL’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia, compounding the significant and undue restrictions these outlets already face. We remain troubled by the ongoing crackdown on independent press in Russia and call on Russia to uphold its international obligations and OSCE commitments to freedom of expression. We urge the Russian government to reconsider these actions, which will further damage the bilateral relationship.

 

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U.S. Government Response to the Explosion in Beirut

8 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

We mourn the loss of life from the horrible tragedy that caused such tremendous destruction to Beirut earlier this week.  We pray for the survivors and their families and for all the Lebanese people as they struggle to put their lives and city back together.  The United States has already pledged more than $17 million in initial disaster aid for Lebanon, which includes food assistance and medical supplies.  This assistance augments the $403 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to Lebanon since September 2019, including $41.6 million in assistance for the COVID response.  We join others in the call for a thorough and transparent investigation into the cause of this explosion.  The Lebanese people deserve accountability and a government that prioritizes the safety and prosperity of its citizens.  No nation is more generous or compassionate than the United States, and we will continue to help the Lebanese people as they recover from this tragedy.

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Côte d’Ivoire Independence Day

8 Aug

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I send my best wishes to the government and people of Côte d’Ivoire as you celebrate 60 years of independence. As our countries continue to combat COVID-19, we are encouraged by our shared commitment to defeating the pandemic, rebuilding our economies, and emerging from this crisis more resilient than before.

This year, we are also celebrating 60 years of strong bilateral relations built on a shared appreciation for democratic principles and free-market economic growth.  It also presents an opportunity for Côte d’Ivoire to hold free and fair elections in a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive manner in which the voice of the Ivoirian people will be freely expressed and heard. Doing so would serve as a positive example for the region and the world, and provide a foundation on which to safeguard the rights of all citizens and increase the remarkable economic gains your government has achieved over the past several years.

As you celebrate this important anniversary amidst challenging times, I take this opportunity to offer best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday and to reaffirm our shared values and longstanding friendship

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