Sep 2, 2020
Mike Pompeo Press Conference Transcript September 2
Sec. of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference on September 2. He discussed relations with China and the Middle East. Read the transcript of his briefing here.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (00:00)
I want to start today talking about multi-lateralism. The Trump Administration wants multilateral institutions to function, to actually work, but multilateralism just for the sake of it, just to get together in a room and chat, doesn’t add value. That brings me to the International Criminal Court, a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution. The United States has never ratified the Rome statute that created the court, and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction. In June, the Trump administration authorized the imposition of economic sanctions against foreign persons directly engaged in ICC efforts to investigate US or allied personnel and those who materially assisted in that effort. Today, we take the next step. Because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly, pursuant to Executive Order 13928, the United States will designate ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the ICC’s head of jurisdiction, complimentarian, cooperation division Phakiso Mochochoko for having material assisted Prosecutor Bensouda.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (01:12)
Individuals and entities that continue to materially support those individuals risk exposure to sanctions as well. Additionally, the State department has restricted the issuance of visas for certain individuals involved in the ICC’s efforts to investigate US personnel. On the multilateral front further, I look forward to seeing my Aussie and Indo-Pacific counterparts next week at a host of virtual meetings, we’ll have discussions that will be wide ranging, including COVID, North Korea, South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Burma’s Rakhine state. I’ll also raise how the Trump administration is restoring reciprocity to the US-China relationship. And today we continue that necessarily work.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (01:57)
For years, the Chinese communist party has imposed significant barriers on American diplomats working inside the PRC, specifically the Chinese communist party has implemented a system of opaque approval processes designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business, attending events, securing meetings, and connecting with the Chinese people, especially on university campuses and via the press and social media. Today I’m announcing the State Department has established a mechanism requiring our approval for senior Chinese diplomats in the United States to visit university campuses and to meet with local government officials. Cultural events with groups larger than 50 people hosted by the Chinese embassy and counselor posts outside our mission properties will also require our approval.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (02:45)
Additionally, we’re taking further steps to ensure that all official PRC embassy and counselor social media accounts are properly identified as government accounts, Chinese government accounts. I have David Stillwell, our assistant secretary of East Asia Pacific affairs with me today. He’ll take questions. We’re simply demanding reciprocity, access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access to Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (03:15)
Further on China. Under-Secretary Crock sent a letter recently to the governing boards of American universities, alerting them to the threats the Chinese Communist Party poses to academic freedom, to human rights, and to university endowments. These threats can come in the form of illicit funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of foreign students, and opaque talent recruitment efforts. University governing boards can help ensure their institutions have clean investments and clean endowment funds by taking a few key steps: disclose all PRC company’s investment invested in endowment funds, especially those in emerging market index funds. Divest from Chinese companies on the commerce department entity list that are contributing to human rights violations, military coercion, and other abuses. And simply understand the recommendations issued by the President’s working group on financial markets, which examined the risk to investors of Chinese companies that are listed on US stock exchanges.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (04:16)
Staying on China, but moving beyond our borders, we’re hoping for a peaceful resolution to the situation on the India-China border, from the Taiwan Strait to the Himalayas and beyond, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in the clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbors. That bullying is also evident in the South China Sea. Last week, the United States imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese individuals and entities responsible for the CCP’s imperialism there. Doing things such as unlawful energy surveillance, activities in the economic zones, our ally, the Philippines, and other countries. We also remain concerned, we’ve talked about this before, the activities more than 300 Chinese flagged vessels near the Galapagos, which are almost certainly engaged in illegal fishing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (05:04)
In light of this maritime lawlessness, it’s no surprise that Beijing’s candidate in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea election last week received more abstentions than any other candidate. China is the most flagrant violator of the Law of the Sea Convention and nations all across the world are registering their disapproval. We’re also concerned about Chinese actions in Tibet, in light of the General Secretary’s recent calls to synthesize Tibetan Buddhism and fight splitism There. We continue to call upon Beijing to enter into dialogue with a Dali Lama or his representatives without preconditions to reach a settlement that resolves their differences.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (05:44)
We’re also tracking the situation in Belarus closely. Deputy Secretary Biegun traveled there last week at my direction. Belarussians deserve the right to choose their own leaders through a truly free and fair election under independent observation. We demand an immediate end to the violence against them and the release of all who are unjustly detained. And that includes US citizen Vitaly Shkliarov.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (06:07)
We’re closely coordinating too with our transatlantic partners and are together reviewing significant targeted sanctions on anyone involved in human rights abuses and oppression. Turning to the Middle East, where I just got back from a productive trip and where we have senior officials there today. The region is changing rapidly thanks to President Trump’s leadership. Building up ties between Israel and its neighbors. The Abraham Accords are clear proof of just that. So is the first ever direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, which took place this week. And the first direct flight between Israel and Sudan, which I was honored to make during my trip. Additionally, at every stop, I urge my counterparts to stand United against Islamic Republic of Iran threats to the region, which leads to my next point.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (06:55)
40 years ago, 40 years ago this month, the Iranian regime arrested nine members of the Baháʼí National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. No one has heard from them since. Sadly, we must conclude that these nine individuals met the same fate as the more than 200 other Iranian Baháʼí’s who have been executed for peacefully practicing their faith. We ask the international community, when will Iran’s regime be held accountable for those crimes?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (07:26)
In Africa, we welcomed the news that Sudan’s civilian led transitional government initiated a historic peace agreement with several opposition groups. That’s good news. They suggested to me when I was visiting them, that would likely occur, good on them. And here close at home in the Western hemisphere, the United States candidate Maricio Klaver Koran is the right person for the Presidency of the International Development Bank. The vote, currently scheduled for September 12th, should not be delayed. It should happen that day. And on Venezuela, 34 countries have now joined the growing list, the growing international consensus in favor of a transitional government, more and more nations know that the fraudulent national assembly election scheduled by Muriel for December 6th of this year, will neither be fair nor free. We also call on free and fair elections in Haiti as soon as technically feasible and with that I’m happy to take a handful of questions.
Speaker 2: (08:19)
Okay, let’s start with you.
Speaker 3: (08:25)
I wanted to ask you about your decision to address the RNC from Jerusalem. There was guidelines sent to State Department staff advising against participate in partisan politics so what message does that send to the men and women of the State Department? Also, obviously the House Foreign Affairs Committee has raised this issue as part of it’s complaint against you. And so if you can address all those issues.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (08:50)
All I can say in my role as Secretary of State, I did this in my personal capacity. I can say in my role as Secretary of State is the State Department reviewed this, it was lawful, and I personally felt it was important that the world hear the message of what this administration has accomplished.
Speaker 2: (09:07)
Thank you. The yearly US Government China report, military China report came out yesterday. It said that China intends to double its nuclear warheads, but in the next 10 years and grow its global and Naval presence. How do you think the US and its allies should respond? And what do you think is the most alarming trend of China’s military?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (09:29)
So what was in that report yesterday doesn’t come as news to anyone who’s been following this issue for the past year. This administration is the first one that has truly called out the Chinese Communist Party for this military aggression, this buildup that it has undertaken. And then of course responded to it. We’ve done a number of things. First Presidents put the largest defense budgets in American history in front of Congress, and they’ve passed it, 700 plus billion dollars, two years running. So we’re making sure that America has the tools it needs to respond to any threat, including threats that emanate from the Chinese Communist Party.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (10:04)
Second, on particular pieces of this, I’ll give you an example, the nuclear weapons, we have implored the Chinese to be part of our strategic dialogue. We’ve suggested it’s in their best strategic interest, it’s our best strategic interest, and the world’s strategic interest to reduce the risk from these most dangerous weapons systems and we’re in productive conversations with the Russians on this very thing. If the Chinese Communist Party is serious about participating on the global stage and being a nation of size and scale, that is part of this community, that it has an obligation. When you build out a nuclear arsenal with the kind of missile testing, more missile tests in China last year then all Western nations combined. If you’re going to be serious, you have to use those in a way that is consistent with how nations undertake their obligations under the Nuclear Proliferation treaties and all of those obligations written, unwritten, signed and unsigned, and then they should enter in these strategic conversations while we want to make sure that the risk of using those weapons systems in particular is diminished. And we stand ready to have them join this conversation with the Russians and hope that they will.
Speaker 2: (11:12)
Good morning Mr. Secretary. [inaudible 00:11:17] order again, just said that Washington partial lifting of arms sales to Cyprus will initiate the conflict in the Eastern of the Mediterranean. How do you respond to that? And how do you assess a Turkish influence in the Middle East? And on Lebanon, sir, if I can, the French President just wrapped a visit to Beirut. He met with all political leaders. Yet we have Assistant Secretary David Schenker in Beirut, and he did not meet with any political leaders. Is this a message and are you coordinating with the French on any initiative?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (11:49)
So as for Lebanon, we’re certainly in close conversations with the French, we share the same objective. Ambassador Hale was in Beirut several weeks back now, he met with a number of political leaders. The objective is the same: business as usual in Lebanon just is unacceptable. I think president Macron said the same thing. This has to be a government that can conduct significant reforms, real change. It’s what the people of Lebanon are demanding. And the United States is going to use its diplomatic presence and its diplomatic capabilities to make sure that we get that outcome. I think the French share that. I think the whole world, frankly, sees the risks stares you in the face. Missile systems, precision guided missiles that Hezbollah holds in the South. We all remember the history of Lebanon, everybody disarmed, but Hezbollah. This is the challenge that is presented. And so those people who are either part of that or are playing footsie with Hezbollah should know that that’s not productive.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (12:44)
It’s not what the people of Lebanon want, and it’s not what the regional security situation demands. So I’m confident that the United States, the French, and all of us who are working there on the ground, both to meet the immediate needs, and the results hat flowed from the explosion that took place now several weeks back as well to the longer term challenges that are presenting in Lebanon, we’ll all work on it together.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (13:04)
You asked about the decision we made yesterday, announced yesterday with respect to Cyprus. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been working on this for an awfully long time. We know that this decision was announced in light of heightened tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, but we thought it was the right thing. And so I made the decision we would move forward with it on the timeline that our decision was reached. President Trump’s been in conversations with President Erdoğan, he’s spoken to the Prime Minister in Greece. We were urging everyone to stand down, to reduce tensions and begin to have diplomatic discussions about the conflicts that exists there in the Eastern Mediterranean, the security conflicts, the energy resource conflicts, and the maritime conflicts. They need to sit down and have conversations about this and resolve this diplomatically. It is not useful to increase military tension in the region. Only negative things can flow from that.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (13:57)
I’ll take a couple more.
Speaker 2: (13:58)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (13:59)
Speaker 6: (14:03)
How do you justify the US not joining the WHO led co-vax effort to provide a vaccine globally when more than 170 other countries have joined?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (14:11)
There is no nation that has been, or will be as deeply committed to delivering vaccines all around the world as the United States of America. Not just in terms of dollars, we will dwarf every nation in terms of the financial resources, the goodness of the American people to give our money, to make sure that these vaccines are delivered. No nation will match us, it won’t even be close, but it is also imperative that when we do that, we need to do so in a way that’s effective. It’s not political. That it’s science based. And what we have seen demonstrated from the World Health Organization that is not that.
Speaker 2: (14:50)
Speaker 7: (14:50)
This is question on Mexico. US energy groups have written letters to you and other senior administration expressing concerns about developments in the energy sector in Mexico. They complain about the lack of legal certainty, investors’ rights for US companies in Mexico, actions taken by the Mexican government. What is the Trump administration willing to do to defend US interest in Mexico in the energy sector, and has this been risen to the Presidential level?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (15:24)
[inaudible 00:15:24] I’m familiar with this issue. We want American companies to have the opportunity to invest down in Mexico. It’s what the USMCA was designed to achieve. We think there’s been real progress there, but make no mistake. We’ve been clear. This isn’t about, you talked about what we do to defend American interest down there. This is in Mexico’s best interest. It’s in Mexico’s best interest to have American investment. The technology that is brought to develop Mexican energy resources to benefit the people of Mexico. And so we’re in constant conversations with the Mexican government about this, certainly at every level of the United States government. It’s important. We think this cooperative set of agreements that was reached between the United States, Canada, Mexico can deliver on those outcomes in a way that NAFTA never could. So we’ll continue to work on that challenge.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: (16:10)
Thank you all. Have a wonderful day.