WATCH LIVE: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on foreign policy at Economic Club – 07/29/2019

WATCH LIVE: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on foreign policy at Economic Club – 07/29/2019



[Applause] secretary thank you very much for coming I know you had nothing else to do today so been a busy Monday already thanks for having me here I really appreciate it it's something happened this morning I don't know about or no all is well I'm here so you became our seventy of the United States Secretary of State in April of 2018 you're happy with the job is it as much as fun as you thought it was gonna be every day so what are the most significant foreign policy issues of concern to you what do you think are the biggest challenges we have in our country right now in foreign policy area so you know I get asked this question about sort of rank ordering the challenges I mean that's not an original question I mean so look it's an important question where it's about priorities and resources in how do you allocate time and how do you think about the problem said you know for me the first the first task when I came in now go to 16 17 months ago to the State Department after having been the CIA director was to make sure the State Department was ready in the moment of crisis so spent a lot of time making sure that my team was prepared for the day that every CEO tries to deal with – right what happens when something really bad happens that was unexpected and as your team capable do you have the resources and people that can respond in the moment for something that frankly you hadn't given enough thought about in terms of priorities you know ice every morning the first thing I do is read about China so I take time and talk about all the broad array of issues that present both real opportunity for the United States and risk to America from China let's talk about China for a moment the trade negotiations are going on you're not the lead in the trade negotiations and bobwhite hyzer is taking the lead in that but can you make any progress in non trade issues until the trade issue is resolved yeah and we've made some we've had other places where we've gotten backwards the Chinese have frankly been very helpful on North Korea so they have done more to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea than ever anytime in history they're helpful with us today in Afghanistan and the project there – it's something folks don't spend a lot of time thinking about so far so good with respect to respecting our sanctions enforcement on the Islamic Republic of Iran although we sanctioned a Chinese company last week or perhaps it was the week before for having violated those sanctions but so there are places we can work with China there are lots of diplomatic fronts where we have we don't share the same values but we have overlapping interests and we work on those problems what would be the US response to the Chinese were to send military into Hong Kong to put down the protest there yeah so I never answer hypotheticals about what will do or won't do so well played all right having said that we've been pretty clear protest is is appropriate we see this in the United States I am confident they'll be protesters when I Drive through the building of the State Department today and we hope the Chinese will do the right thing with respect to respecting the agreements that are in place with respect to Hong Kong Thanks so you have been to North Korea and you've met with the leader of North Korean on a few occasions and you've been there where the president has met with him so what type of person is he does he have great interesting thoughts as he have did he speak English how do you communicate in English with him and can you just can summarize what your impression is of the leader of North Korea yeah so I've spent more time with him than any American I passed a Dennis Rodman on the last trip okay okay so so so he look he's he's bright he has managed he has managed to rise the level of leadership in a difficult environment where he was a very young man when his time came from my very first interaction with him he's been very candid with me about the things that are important to him the priority set and how the negotiations might proceed he's now repeated that he's prepared to denuclearize it's not time to execute and I hope that we can achieve that well I hope I had to Asia tomorrow mid day I'll be in Bangkok for a couple days we hope that we can have working-level discussions starting again very soon so that we can unlock the Rubik's Cube it's a it's a real challenge that he is with as the leader of North Korea as well we hope that we hope that he can see his way clear so we can get that brighter future the president Trump was talked about do you expect a third summit to be announced anytime soon the date and time of it others there's nothing in the works there's nothing planned and why did the last summit end before the lunch even occur why did it kind of abruptly end there was a big spread to put it in economic terms we'd had a number I can't go into all this but we had a number of conversations about a broad range of issues in the run-up to that my team had worked very very hard and it just turned out that the idea that the leaders could bridge that gap in that moment turned out to not work that day but do you think there the u.s. position has been that we would not lift sanctions until there was a so-called denuclearization but would you be willing to consider having the North Koreans keep whatever they have in nuclear weapons now and then lift sanctions if they didn't do more than they have now or is that something too hypothetical too hypothetical oh okay I don't want to give you the answer all right so look I'll say this I've talked about this publicly a couple times we hope that there are creative solutions to unlocking this it is a very difficult challenge for each of us we have to remember to these aren't US sanctions these are UN Security Council resolutions these are global sanctions put on by every single country and so we are we are mindful that we are the steward for enforcing those let's go to easier part of the world the Middle East okay so the Straits of Hormuz are we committed to keeping open the Straits of Hormuz at any cost militarily yeah we're going to keep them open well we're gonna build out a maritime security plan countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways up and will participate it will take more time than we wish it would take but I'm very confident that the world understands its importance that America is prepared to be a significant part of that but we need countries from all across the world to assist us in protecting commercial transit we'll be successful but our position I presume is that if the u.s. ship were taken by the Iranians we would presumably do something militarily I guess I don't know but what about if a ship is taken that's a British ship or some other nationality are we not committed to recovering that ship or doing something to defend those ships well we've seen it we've seen them take a British ship so this isn't a hypothetical and we are we are working I was working with wood I guess I'm not working with my third British Foreign Minister since I've been a Secretary of State but working with the British to find the solution to both a write that injustice and second prevent it from happening again so to establish deterrence that's the mission set now recently the you gave a visa for the foreign minister of Iran to come to the United States for a UN event you're familiar that's true yes yes okay so when he was in the United States were there any indirect or direct talks with him and the State Department about anything that you can talk about no talks no talks and okay any although he spoke the American media decided to give him a megaphone to talk about things that are untrue going on in this Lepik Republic of Iran and gave him the chance to like vociferously to the American people I look forward to the chance to speak to the Iranian people in that same way but truthfully well then honestly about what's going on inside of their own country I so far they're not taking me up on that offer now President Trump has imposed tough sanctions on Iran do you think they are going to have the effect of bringing Iran to the negotiating table or not you have to step back a little bit remember the objective the objective is the national security strategy that was laid out now two and a half years ago with respect to the Middle East so it's a it's broader we tend to focus on the tactical if to step back and think about what we're doing more broadly in the Middle East with respect to Iran it's the world's largest state sponsor of terror it has the capacity to continue to work towards developing a nuclear weapons system which would cause proliferation risks all throughout the Middle East and so we are very concerned about that as well our our chosen strategy was to take a 180-degree turn from what the previous administration has done they created opportunity for enormous wealth for the kleptocrats in Iran and for them to underwrite Hezbollah militias in Iraq the Houthis in Yemen that are even as we speak preparing to continue their attacks on Saudi Arabia we've decided go the other way we're trying to reduce their resources to conduct terror campaigns all around the world bill up their missile systems and their nuclear program and we've been incredibly effective and that I remember David I'm sure no one in this room but many here in Washington said that American sanctions alone won't work well they've worked we have taken over 95% of the crude oil that was being shipped by around all around the one we have taken it off the market we've done so what I checked when I came in Brent crude is at 63 34 17 18% lower than when we were through from the jcpoa so we have we have managed both to protect the economic growth that the world needs while doing our best to deny resources to the Islamic Republic of Iran which the prospect of another Iranian agreement one that's more favorable to your point of view and the president's point of view is that likely to happen this year next year or you can't predict I don't do time time time lines are fool's errand in my business there appeared in my business when I ran a small company again the Iranians are now enriching uranium at a greater level than they were before do you worry that somebody Israel might attack the Iranian facilities or you're not worried about that yes they're enriching more than they were under the agreement their temper their temporary reduction in enriched uranium has now ended they're moving back in the wrong direction where we're urging them to to think about but for us it's not about these levels set in the jcpoa all right it's about their capacity to build that a nuclear weapons system in a time frame that matters to you and your kids and your grandkids the previous agreement didn't remotely touch that in the Middle East you see any prospect for peace between Israel and the Palestinians there's been talk of a plan and if you see any progress being made so there's a reason it hasn't been solved for 40 years or more in the end this will be the decision of the Prime Minister of Israel and the leadership in the West Bank in Gaza I I've been deeply involved in mr. Krishna's efforts there he'll be traveling my team will be traveling with him in the coming days to flesh out for our partners in the region our path forward and in the end we could our vision our plan what we hope they will engage on we hope we get the Gulf states to join us in that effort and frankly the European countries too to say this is though the path forward but in the end the decision about whether to make this fundamental rapprochement is up to those two countries those three leaders but is our position the United States government position that we prefer a one state solution or a two state solution you'll see our plan shortly okay wait give us a hint or no okay we prefer what the Palestinians and the Israelis agreed to and what the nature of that relationship will look like okay any progress you think between Qatar Saudi Arabia and the UAE and resolving their dispute are we in the middle of that now they're only there they're in the middle of it okay so you're not in the middle of trying to resolve that we we've made clear we hope that that they will join together we think Gulf State unity on the issues that matter to American America citizens matters what about Yemen any progress in reducing the conflicts there yeah real progress it is uneven in the end the the player who will get to play the ultimate final card there would be the Iranians the Houthis have to make a decision they've got to decide if they want to continue down the path of being disruptive and accepting Iranian vessels and watching them in the Saudi Arabia now negotiations are underway with the Taliban in the Middle East the u.s. is involved in that do you see any progress in reducing our need to be in Afghanistan anything in the near future yeah real progress I try not to do timelines but I'm optimistic we're not just negotiating with the Taliban that's the story the truth of the matter is we're talking to all Afghans so we spoken with President Ghani I spoke to him on Friday night or Friday morning speaking with the opposition those folks that are not inside the government or speaking with Taliban officials we have ambassador Khalil Asaad has worked all across Afghanistan with I'm when I was there last I met with NGOs I met with women's groups a broad swath of Afghanistan we want them to take it their country back and we want to reduce what is for us tens of billions of dollars a year in expenditures and enormous risk to your kids and your grandkids fighting for America we think there's a path to reduce violence achieve reconciliation and still make sure that the American counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan has a value in the potential to reduce risk here in the States before the next presidential election in the United States would you expect we reduce reduce our troops in Afghanistan that's my directive from the president United States he's been unambiguous and the endless wars drawdown reduce it won't just be us those of you who served know that a resolute support has countries from all across Europe and around the world we hope we hope that over all the need for combat forces in the region is reduced all right yes it's not only my expectation it's a it would be job enhancing okay all right so on Russia you've met with mr. Putin many times I assume a few times yes sir and any impressions of him that you might convey is he very smart very tough does he understand English that you convey your thoughts to him in English or he have an interpreter I think I think he speaks English plenty well okay look he's he's very clear about the things that are in Russia's interest the things they're working on you know we had a strategic dialogue with them that we hope will build into something that handles a broad set of proliferation issues not just nuclear proliferation issues but a broad array of proliferation so we hope China will will join that set of conversations we think today's in today's world these agreements need to have China be part of them and I hope that President Putin will support us that I think he will for the time being would you say that there is any progress in Ukraine or anything relating to Ukraine is that something that's just off the table right now in terms of discussions so we're engaging with the new government in Ukraine they just finished up their parliamentary elections last week new president I hope that that will engender a more creative set of ideas about how to resolve this problem the conflict in Ukraine is real they're still fighting not every day but a lot for that it's very real Crimea you think that's not never gonna read return to Ukraine the u.s. position is that that is unacceptable Crimea must come back now right there are protests now in Russia about local elections and the leader of the protesters in jail and there's been reports that he's been poisoned we don't know if that's a cure or not do you have any comment on what's going on there the United States protesting to the Russian government about what's going you know I've read the reports I don't have anything to add this morning I think I think everyone understands the u.s. position right we this goes for you asked about Hong Kong earlier Russia all these places we always support freedom of expression freedom to practice ones religion to have to live out one conscious we hope that for every citizen of the world you were the head of the CIA at the beginning of this administration do you have any doubt that the Russians interfered with our last presidential election no none none okay so have you convened the one before that and the one before that and the one before that and the one in 2018 we have people forget we've had an election since 2016 I have people say oh we have to protect 2020 well the good people who ran in 2018 cared a lot about us protecting that what we did so very effectively and we'll do so again in 2012 and it's not just the last thing I've just I know this town I know exactly what'll get reported just so you know it ain't just Russia that's bad English I'll try and correct it there are there are more nations than just Russia who are attempting to undermine Western democracy that has been true since the founders and created this great nation and so we have to be ever vigilant there is legislation that's passed the house and how in the Senate to and give more resources to keep the Russians from being ever do this again is the administration supportive of the legislation which seems to be blocked right now in the Senate yeah I don't know the details of the legislation I'm convinced State Department has all the recent resources it needs to perform it's part of that function we have what we need we have the authorities we need we have the money we need it's the burden is on me to execute and have you communicated to mr. Putin that we do not like what he's done before and he shouldn't do it again on a number of occasions and what's his response noted okay that's that's a diplomatic term for I hear you brother so okay he doesn't admit anything I assume but okay so with respect to England there's a new Prime Minister you have met Boris Johnson before I have I met him when I was CI director and they believe he was foreign secretary at the time when I think there's the the current Trump administration support they brexit or would you prefer that there be a remain or do you not take a position on that a confidence in the British people okay now the British ambassador had to resign because his cables were leaked by somebody do you tell your own ambassadors they should be a little more careful about what they say to you because somebody could leak what they're writing is that a worry not at all and if I did they'd ignore me okay I mean right they have a duty their responsibility our task is for them to tell us what they're saying that the the power of the State Department is like that we have these officers on the ground many countries can do policy in think-tanks but we have people every place the one we want them to give us the granularity that you can only get with those interactions and we expect that they'll report them accurately truthfully candidly and then our mission is to make sure they don't end up in the Washington Post now in Pacific the Mexico we have been concerned about people coming over the border are you confident that the Mexican government is now doing what it can to keep more people from not coming over the border they are so they're doing enough you think or no it's not enough and now you still have a high side of 2000 every day that's it's unacceptable and so they need to do more we need to do more Congress needs to change the rules we have to create a deterrence right it has to be the case that those who want to come here legally can and those who want to come by some other mechanism choose not to because they understand that not they're not going to find a way I remember this as a member of Congress people would call my office and say hey we live in pick a country around the world and I said they want to come here and get citizenship and you know anyway I won't tell you the joke at all but the simplest way to do would be go to Mexico and come on but what you want to encourage them to do is file the paperwork go through the lawful process become citizens were the most welcoming nation in the world we'll always be but it's not the case that we can be lawless or have our sovereignty broken through having this mass immigration and an unlawful mechanism it's truly there's a national security risk very very broadly speaking and so when I speak with my Mexican counterparts I was in El Salvador last week speaking with my own Salvadoran camera who understands who's whose challenge it is it's theirs not ours we got to get this right Oh in Mexico and Canada we have redone NAFTA and now USMC a but congress hasn't passed it are you worried that Congress might not pass that legislation I hope they will I hope they will president's doing everything he can to create growth here in the United States American USMC I would contribute to that substantially and so I hope they'll pass it I'm out of that I don't do vote-counting anymore I did that for six years I'm out speaking of south of the border Venezuela would the u.s. ever send troops in it was I was necessary to keep further violence from occurring there so you started trying to get me at the beginning now you're trying at the end the president has said pretty clearly we're gonna do all that it takes to make sure the Venezuelan people get democracy back and that's the that's the mission set we're closer today than we were several months ago but in the end we'll do our part and the nations of the reasons we built that a great coalition from members of the OAS to what we call the Lima group 56 or 58 other countries who are joining us and we'll understand Maduro is not the duly elected president progress every day now President Trump has sometimes tweeted things that are not favorable about some people working for him he's never tweet anything unfavorable about you literally it's early so what is the what is the secret of your success in your relationship with Prezi you didn't know him before he was elected did you I did not I met him the day I interviewed to be CIA director just and who recommended you to be CIA director I don't know for sure I I don't I don't know you mean the CIA doesn't have the ability to figure out who recommended you we should think are they but you've never believed that see I only does for an Espeon okay I got okay I've never been able to convince somebody somebody recommended you you had an interview I think the Vice President was likely the person who who I had known and served with as a member of Congress and did you say I like the CIA job but I'd like to be Secretary of State or this came at us a surprise deal it was a complete surprise to me I was and I was honored to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency okay so some people say that you should run for the Senate from Kansas in fact Mitch McConnell I think has twisted your arm a few times to do that can you say definitively that you will not run the filing date is June of 2020 you probably know so any I didn't but thank you for roommate okay so would you consider that are you putting that off the table for a while or it's it's off the table as a practical matter I'm gonna serve as Secretary of State every day that I get the chance to do so look we all serve with the president the president you talked about that director Coates who I have enormous respect for will be leaving the administration saying he's served nobly there there's a time for everyone and I I hope I get to do this for a while longer my experience is that sometimes when people get close to a president they see the job up-close they say well I can do that job too has that occurred to you that maybe you could do the job and would you have any interest in running for president at some point in your life I try to answer this consistently I have never been able to predict what my next gig will be and I suspect that's that's the case with respect to this I will say this the service that I've had the chance to do I'm almost 20 years now in Federal service 18 years of federal service in my time in the Army and then in Congress and now and the executive branch it has been a blessing I hope I've left things a little bit better and I I do feel an obligation America has given me an awful lot nope I thought I could do a good turn there's there's nothing I wouldn't consider doing for America okay let's suppose president is reelected when you can be willing to serve as Secretary of State for one two three four years of a second term or have you thought about that yet haven't thought about it yet you know hard to know hard to answer those questions that the real question is what the president still want Mike Pompeo is the Secretary of State okay so when you have decisions with the president meetings with him does he best with oral communications written communications and what's the process by which decisions are made is it through the NSC or yeah informal so there's a very robust NSC process when i briefed him myself I always prefer to have document it's the way I prefer to receive information so almost always bring something a one-page summary at the very least that says here's the outline of what it is that I think are the priorities now we should think about how we should frame this particular problem and then the president does like to engage in oral exchanges and I've found them to be elucidating for myself I often learn things as well he's very focused on where the money is how we use economic leverage to achieve our diplomatic ends now except when Henry Kissinger was both Secretary of State and naturally advisor at the same time generally there's been some tension between secretaries of state and masquerade advisors how is your relationship with John Bolton yeah I mean look there's always tension among leaders of different organizations we we come at these things with from a different viewpoint basa der pol has is responsibility to try and make sure all the ideas are vetted and get to the president secretary Treasury Secretary of Energy the Intelligence Committee to have their missions that's theirs we have robust liability debates I agree with each of them often and disagree with most of them sometimes so we have a few dozen ambassadors here what would you give them as insight as the best way to influence the President of the United States on foreign policy matters yeah deliver value that's what I talk about every day that's what you all do every day and your business it's not about does he like Mike or does he like owl or or Alice it's about did you show up with an informed back base theory that can deliver the outcomes that are in the president's commander's intent if we do that if we show up with the best answer we'll drive policy if we don't we'll just be banging her gums now there are reports today that the new head of the Central Intelligence are Sienna dni it will be John Radcliffe from Congress who you served with in Congress some people say he is too political for that position you've served in CIA do you believe he is too political for that position yeah I know John some we he was his first term I think was my final term in Congress so I know him reasonably well he's very smart I'm very confident I'll do a good job I remember people saying I'd be too litical to be the CI director to I hope that history will will inform us all that that wasn't the case that I did my job that I delivered on behalf of the American people in an appropriate way and didn't allow politics to interfere with delivering important timely fact-based intelligence to the president United States so your career you were first in your class at West Point so how do you become first in your class at West Point that's pretty tough I mean what happened to all the other people who were second third and fourth that they become anything and so one of them's the Secretary of Defense right so he's a classmate of mine as well I give him a hard time about our relative order of finish yes now you went to Harvard Law School why did you abandon the practice of law I had a great opportunity I was practicing law at Williams and Connelly here had great partners I worked for unlike many I actually enjoyed my time there I was older that I had gone to law school a little bit later but I had a chance to start a business in Kansas with three of my best friends in the whole world and so started a company that was a machine shop in Wichita Kansas and spent the next 15 you once told me you were negotiating with somebody on the opposite side on that deal and that person wound up to be your wife is that cool it's true she took my money twice okay so what is the best part about being Secretary of State I love Susan by the way so we're still married it's everything's good you had to say that otherwise I did I have friends in the room who are texting her right now alright so well alright so the best part of being secretary of state is what you get a chance to help ordinary Americans understand what we're doing and try and deliver them an environment where a fewer viewer their kids have to be in armed conflict that's our mission set every day to get American outcomes through diplomacy and what's the worst part about being Secretary of State I haven't figured that out yet I I'm enjoying every minute of what I'm doing I truly feel that I've been given this this remarkable privilege to serve and I'm trying to do my best to deliver on that every day the State Department itself are you involved with a lot of the Foreign Service officers are you trying to encourage them to be more and more involved in the State Department or how do you try to deal with the foreign service officers yeah look one of the things that I love doing is leading teams leading organizations what I loved when I was a platoon leader when I ran the aerospace in Wichita Kansas and so when I came in the very beginning we had deep plans for how to make Foreign Service officers our civil servants are local employed staff better so we've got real training programs in the works we've developed what we call the ethos for the 20th 21st century diplomat each of which is aimed at making these folks will be there a long after I'm gone many of them right they came here before me and they will be here after I'm gone I want to make sure that they have the opportunity to grow and learn and deliver on behalf of America in their space and so we have an obligation to take good care of them and to make sure they get the training and education they need as well so let me just conclude we're out of time I noticed you have very colorful socks on is that part of your diplomatic this is a little bit about you with me every moment yes these are Army soldiers toy soldiers it's a bit of an inside joke and have now like 40 pairs of these so 40 pairs yes okay friends from all across the world sent them after the first photo with there was a picture when I was with my North Korean counterpart with these and everyone thought it was funny so now you're leaving when the United States you're leaving I leave tomorrow over a day and how do you deal with jet lag when you're Secretary of State just keep going you all yellow tribe everybody travels a lot I just I'm pretty fortunate I can I can sleep just about anywhere and get a couple hours sleep and be ready to ready to get on doesn't bother me okay so thank you very much for your service and thank you very much for coming here to thank you all very much [Applause]

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