Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks to Media

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SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone.

I know you’re happy to see me twice in twoweeks.

(Laughter.

) QUESTION: More.

More.

SECRETARY POMPEO: More, yes.

(Laughter.

) MS ORTAGUS: You never say that about me.

QUESTION: All the time, Morgan.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I just returned from Doha.

I’ll talk about that in just a minute.

Then tomorrow I’ll be in New York at theUnited Nations.

I wanted to give you an update on a numberof situations where America is once again serving as a force for good around the world.

Let’s start with our efforts, the StateDepartment’s efforts on coronavirus.

The State Department continues to supportPresident Trump’s strong leadership and whole-of-government approach to protect Americans.

There’s no higher duty for us.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the President’sbriefings and updates from CDC and HHS, and the good news that Deborah Birx from our teamhere at the State Department is now serving as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.

She will do an excellent job for the Americanpeople.

We’re proud to have her being part of thatteam.

The State Department has implemented aggressivetravel restrictions, updated travel advisories, and worked with the private sector to ensureU.

S.

citizens and travelers are informed and safe.

And as I said in my last press briefing, we’rehelping other countries keep their people safe, too.

For instance, we’re working with Italy andSouth Korea – two countries that have been hit especially hard – to create effectiveexit screenings for passengers coming to the United States.

We’ve also extended offers to help the IslamicRepublic of Iran, and we hope that the Government of Iran will heed our offers of humanitarianassistance and medical supplies.

On Monday, our USAID announced $37 millionin financing allocated for countries affected or at high risk of the Wuhan virus’s spread.

That comes on top of the $100 million in humanitarianassistance [1] and delivery of more than 17 tons of assistance that the United Stateshas sent to the Chinese people back in January.

We are – the United States Government is– deploying humanitarian assistance and personal protective equipment to more than25 countries around the world.

This assistance, along with the vast amountsdonated by our private sector businesses and religious institutions, demonstrate once againthe immense generosity of the American people and the fundamental goodness of our nation.

Turning to Afghanistan: The signing of theU.

S.

-Taliban agreement in Doha, together with the realization of the U.

S.

-Afghan joint declarationin Kabul, laid the groundwork for the road ahead toward a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

We know that the road ahead will be difficult.

We expected it; we were right.

The upsurge in violence in parts of Afghanistanover the last couple days is unacceptable.

In no uncertain terms: violence must be reducedimmediately for the peace process to move forward.

Indeed, President Trump discussed this veryissue directly with Taliban deputy leader Mullah Berader on Tuesday of this week.

And while a reduction in violence is paramount, we also continue to press all sides to stop posturing, start a practical discussion aboutprisoner releases, knuckle down and prepare for the upcoming intra-Afghan negotiations.

The future of this peace process isn’t justabout what we do, or what the Taliban does.

It’s about getting the Afghan people togetherto solve this problem that has plagued Afghanistan for now 40 years.

We, the United States, has opened a door foryou, the Afghan people, to come to the table to determine the future of your country.

We’ll stand with you; we’re ready to supportyou.

Do not squander this opportunity.

In other news related, I received word thismorning that the ICC Appeals Chamber authorized an investigation into the activities of theTaliban and U.

S.

and Afghan personnel there.

This is a truly breathtaking action by anunaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body.

It is all the more reckless for this rulingto come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation.

Indeed, the Afghan Government itself pleadedwith the ICC not to take this course.

But the ICC politicians had other goals.

I will reiterate one more time: The UnitedStates is not a party to the ICC, and we will take all necessary measures to protect ourcitizens from this renegade, unlawful, so-called court.

This is yet another reminder of what happenswhen multilateral bodies lack oversight and responsible leadership and become insteada vehicle for political vendettas.

The ICC today stumbled into a sorry affirmationof every denunciation made by its harshest critics over the last three decades.

Moving on to another event, which our teamhere worked hard to ensure a good result for the American people: The World IntellectualProperty Organization election yesterday went in a way that will be good for the world.

I am pleased to congratulate Singapore’sDaren Tang on his election as the director general of the World Intellectual PropertyOrganization.

Mr.

Tang is a thought leader on intellectualproperty issues, and a vocal advocate for transparency and institutional integrity.

The U.

S.

looks forward to working closelywith him to advance WIPO’s core mission of safeguarding intellectual property.

Secure property rights are critical for drivinginnovation, investment, and economic opportunity.

U.

S.

companies are the world’s most innovative, so they’ll be – derive a great deal of benefit from Mr.

Tang’s sure stewardshipof this important institution.

Turning to China: Last week we applied a personnelcap on five Chinese state-backed propaganda outlets here in the United States.

We took this action in service of PresidentTrump’s mission to establish greater reciprocity in our relationship with China.

We expect Beijing to take a more fair approachtowards American and other foreign press inside of China.

Where the Chinese Communist Party has imposedincreasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation on our independent and world-classjournalists, we will respond to achieve reciprocity.

A free press helps expose corruption and protectthe people from cover-ups, as well as help the world understand the CCP’s thinking.

As I said when I spoke to you last time, censorshipcan have deadly consequences.

We urge the CCP to immediately uphold itscommitments to respect freedom of the press.

A few other issues, starting with the IslamicRepublic of Iran.

This past week, the IAEA issued two reportsthat the Islamic Republic of Iran is hiding nuclear material – its nuclear materialand nuclear activities.

Iran is party to the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty.

Iran’s safeguard agreements under that treatyrequire it to declare nuclear material to the IAEA and provide the IAEA inspectors withfull access to verify those sites and those materials.

Iran’s intentional failure to declare suchnuclear material, as reported by the IAEA this week, would constitute a clear violationof its safeguards agreements required by the NPT.

The regime must immediately cooperate withthe IAEA and fully comply with its IAEA safeguards obligations.

All nations must hold Iran accountable toits commitments.

Otherwise, the NPT isn’t worth the paperthat it’s written on.

The IAEA’s latest reports are all the moretroubling, because Iran continues to lie about its past nuclear weapons program, just asit has lied about downing a civilian airliner and its suppression of the extent of its coronavirusoutbreak.

Given Iran’s prior covert nuclear weaponsprogram and ignominious record of duplicity, any undeclared nuclear material or activitiesin Iran is an extremely serious matter.

The United States remains committed to denyingIran any pathway to a nuclear weapon.

In light of Iran’s past nuclear weaponsprogram, it is imperative that Iran verifiably demonstrate that it’s permanently abandonedall of its previous work.

Iran’s current expansion of its uraniumenrichment program would have been permitted by the nuclear deal in 2031.

Here again we see the shortsighted natureof that deal.

More immediately, seven months from now wewill see the lifting of the arms embargo on Iran.

The UN Security Council must act to renewthe arms embargo before it expires.

And one final note on the Islamic Republicof Iran – we’re heartbroken by the reports from Amnesty International that regime securityforces killed at least 23 children in the course of the November protests.

The Iranian regime is truly an outlaw regime.

And with that, I’m happy to take a few questions.

MS ORTAGUS: Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Good morning, Mr.

Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, Matt.

QUESTION: Thanks for coming down.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Just a couple very brief things.

One, on the – Afghanistan, have you seen– other than the signing of the agreement on Saturday, have you seen any evidence thatthe Taliban have, in fact, renounced, shunned, broken ties with al-Qaida? And then on the ICC part of it, are – doyou expect now to issue travel bans like you did for the prosecutor on the appeals courtjudges? And then secondly, off the beaten track alittle bit, but you mentioned it – the WIPO decision.

This was a victory for the administrationover China.

And I’m just wondering if you see that thathope for your attempts to stem Huawei’s – if this is a signal that you think thatthere’s a recognition of that, the dangers.

Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks, Matt.

I can’t say much about what we’ve seenthe Taliban do in the aftermath since – what are we now? – a handful of days on, five days out.

But we have seen the senior Taliban leadershipworking diligently to reduce violence from previous levels during similar time periods.

And so we still have confidence that the Talibanleadership is working to deliver on its commitments.

We’re working to deliver on ours.

Ambassador Khalilzad is in Kabul today workingto develop the confines against which we will begin the intra-Afghan negotiations with, the work to get the prisoner releases, the prisoner exchanges as part of that conversationas well.

So everything we’ve seen in the aftermathof both the declaration that was made in Kabul and the agreement that was signed in Dohaindicates that we are still tracking.

We’re not naive.

Everything’s got to be verified.

There’ll be days when we stare at it andhave to really drive this process forward.

But we’re determined to do that.

Your second question was about the ICC.

I don’t want to get in front of what actionswe might take.

But we’ve come to know this ICC as a trulypolitical body.

I know one of those Cs stands for court, andwhen we think about courts in America we think about independence and Article III.

This is not that.

And we have evidence suggesting that therehas been – there have been efforts to provide misinformation to the court by foreign parties.

We’re going to take all the appropriateactions to ensure that American citizens are not hauled before this political body to settlea political vendetta.

So I’ll – we’ll do some work.

We’ll have some announcements probably ina couple weeks about the path that we’re going to take to ensure that we protect Americansoldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our intelligence warriors, the diplomats that have worked forthe State Department over the years to ensure that the ICC doesn’t impose – doesn’timpose pressure on them in a way that doesn’t reflect the noble nature of the undertakingsof every one of those Americans.

We have a solid system here in the UnitedStates.

When there’s wrongdoing by an American, we have a process by which that is redressed.

This ICC thing is not that.

And your last question was about the WorldIntellectual Property Organization.

This wasn’t about defeating China.

This was about the United States selectingthe most capable candidate to deliver on intellectual property rights.

We all know the history of China, and propertyrights, and intellectual property rights, right.

They’ve stolen hundreds of millions of dollarsof American intellectual property, harming citizens from Kansas to Iowa to Tennesseeand Texas, destroying jobs here in the United States of America.

The institution that sets the path forwardat the UN is the World Intellectual Property Organization.

We’re very pleased with the outcome fromthe election yesterday.

We think Daren Tang, the candidate from Singapore, will do a fantastic job of creating the standards, the rule of law, the transparency that thatinstitution deserves when it’s at its best.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS ORTAGUS: Humeyra.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Hi.

QUESTION: Hello, Mr.

Secretary.

Thanks for doing this.

I just want to follow up on what you saidon the intra-Afghan deal, the intra-Afghan talks.

How are you planning to overcome the difficultiesaround the prisoner release? Because as per the deal, this has to come, this has to precede the intra-Afghan talks that are slated to start on March the 10th.

Could this push it forward? Obviously, that wouldn’t be such a surprise.

And my second question is: Why is there adiscrepancy between the two texts, the one that was signed with the Taliban and the onethat was signed with the Afghan Government? One talks about the feasibility of releasinga significant number of prisoners.

The other one mentions a specific number, up to 5, 000.

Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, those – yeah, Iappreciate that.

Those aren’t remotely inconsistent.

These were heavily negotiated documents.

All the parties understand that it’s timefor prisoner exchanges to take place.

A number of the prisoners being held haveserved their full sentences.

We need to move that process forward.

It will be political.

Both sides think they have leverage.

But what we have urged all the parties todo is stop posturing.

It’s time to move forward.

It’s time to reduce violence.

It’s time to sit down and talk; not justthe narrow interests that you happen to represent, but the interests of all Afghan people willbe best served if we get this peace process right.

We’ll have lots of voices being heard.

There will be lots of different views.

We know those will be hard-fought negotiations.

It’s why it’s been 40 years that the Afghanpeople have suffered from these levels of violence.

The President’s guidance has been unmistakablyclear.

We’re going to do everything we can to assistthe Afghan people at saving Afghan lives.

Taking down violence in Afghanistan and inthe region while making sure, every moment, that we protect the homeland from the threatfrom terror that might emanate from Afghanistan, just as we do trying to take down the riskof terror in Syria, from Iran, from lots of places around the world.

We have an obligation to get that right notjust in Afghanistan, but everywhere.

And this process that we’ve now set in motionhas the opportunity to do that, and to reduce costs and the risks that American soldierswill have to go there multiple times, continue to serve, and put their lives at risk.

MS ORTAGUS: Rich.

QUESTION: Hi, Mr.

Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Hi, Rich.

Good morning.

QUESTION: Good morning.

Are you satisfied with the E3’s pace ofaddressing JCPOA violations? SECRETARY POMPEO: No, absolutely not.

QUESTION: Okay.

And would the United States then petitionthe UN Security Council for a snapback in sanctions on the JCPOA? SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t want toget ahead of what decision we might ultimately make.

No, we – look, there’s no secret.

The reason I answered so quickly is there’sno secret.

We’ve chosen a different path forward thanthe E3 has with respect to the JCPOA.

That’s been public for an awfully long time.

Our view is this: Our view is to isolate Iran, to put pressure on the Iranian regime, to deny them resources to foment terror in Lebanonthrough Hizballah or in the Gaza Strip through Hamas and the PIJ, or the Iraqi militia – theShia militias in Iraq.

Those – that’s how we will ultimatelyconvince the Iranian regime to change its behavior and provide an opportunity for theIranian people to get the government that I know that they want.

That’s our theory.

The theory of the case – the E3 has a differentone.

They think the JCPOA best serves that.

That’s been a sharp disagreement.

That hasn’t changed.

But we are – have been very pleased.

The E3 executed – or notified of the disputeresolution mechanism.

That’s a good step forward.

We think that’s positive.

We hope that as we approach this big demarcationthat occurs in October, the very missiles that put American lives at risk in Iraq andthe very missiles that fell on Saudi Aramco can be lawfully sold by China or Russia toIran come October of this year.

This is consistent with the JCPOA.

This is the fundamental failing.

Iran will be free to buy conventional weaponssystems from any willing seller come October of this year, just a handful of years afterthis ridiculous nuclear deal was signed.

We’re aiming to get that extended.

We’re aiming to get it fixed.

It is important.

It’s important not just for the United States, but for European countries as well.

I’ll take one more.

MS ORTAGUS: Last question, Nick Schifrin.

QUESTION: Thanks, Mr.

Secretary.

I want to take you to Syria and — SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir.

Sorry I didn’t see you back there.

Thanks, Nick.

QUESTION: Sorry.

I want to take you to Syria and Turkey, andthose borders.

Obviously, we’re watching the Russian president’smeeting with the Turkish president today.

I wondered if you could talk about whetherand how much the U.

S.

is willing to try and change the balance of power in both Idliband between Turkey and Russia.

So in Idlib, are you considering at all aTurkish request to take out Syrian air defenses? They’ve obviously asked for Patriot missiles.

Are you in favor of providing those Patriotmissiles? And overall, is this a moment where you believethe U.

S.

can try and distance, perhaps, Turkey’s relationship with Russia? SECRETARY POMPEO: The President’s been prettyclear in his response.

He spoke with President Erdogan just a fewdays back.

I know that Russian and Turkish leaders aregoing to speak today.

Our requirement is that they move back tothe Sochi agreement back from 2018, that they too enter into a ceasefire in the region.

As we know, hundreds of thousands of Syriansof all faiths, but predominantly Muslim, are being harmed by what the Assad regime, theRussians, and the Iranians are doing inside of Idlib.

And the Turkish Government has asked us fora handful of things.

We’re evaluating all of those requests.

Our team, along with the Department of Defenseteam, is trying to figure out how best to deliver less violence, more peace there, andstop the enormous humanitarian crisis that is – continues to take place.

We had two of our senior leaders from theState Department on the ground there yesterday, I think it was, our time in Washington.

Ambassador Craft and Ambassador Jeffrey wereboth there working to see how we can bring American and European resources to bear tomitigate this humanitarian crisis on the ground in Idlib and in the southern parts of Turkey.

QUESTION: And the Turkey-Russia part? SECRETARY POMPEO: We believe firmly that ourNATO partner Turkey has the full right to defend itself against the risk that’s beingcreated by what Assad, the Russians, and the Iranians are doing inside of Syria.

MS ORTAGUS: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Nick.

Thank you all.

Have a great day, a great weekend too.

.

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