Remarks to the Press

SECRETARY POMPEO: So a couple thoughts as we get started. First, from the trip, I think we accomplished the objectives we set out: a chance to meet a number of foreign ministers I’ve not met before; we got a chance to share with them three or four things, primarily the United States commitment to the region, something I spoke about a week ago now on Monday; to lay out for them a little more detail how it is the case we intend to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region is free and open. And I think they appreciated hearing that directly from me in private settings where we could talk about what that really meant for them and for their country.

The second, we got to bring them up to speed on the progress, places we haven’t made progress on North Korea, and our plan moving forward, including the need for each of them to continue to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions and what that meant and what our expectation was for every country who � part of the UN who had voted for those Security Council resolutions.

I’m happy � other questions � everybody saw there was an earthquake where we took off from, 7.0 earthquake in Indonesia just after we took off. I think 37 now reported � we don’t have confirmations, but multiple deaths.

QUESTION: Any Americans?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Don’t have any � I don’t have any information beyond that yet. All of the government personnel are accounted for, but we don’t have confirmation whether there were American citizens there. Do you have any (inaudible)?

MS NAUERT: Not just yet, sir. (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I hadn’t seen anything yet either.

And then tomorrow’s an important day. I’ve talked a lot about the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Tomorrow the first set of waivers associated with the wind-down period after the President’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA will take effect. The White House will have an announcement sometime tomorrow morning about that, how we’re actually going to handle that as well, but it’s an important part of our efforts to push back against Iranian malign activity.

Anyway, there you go. There’s three thoughts. Happy (inaudible).

QUESTION: On Iran � on Iran, do you know � Foreign Minister Zarif was really working the room there this last week at ASEAN, and he seemed to be � according to his tweets, he seemed to be suggesting � he was talking to a lot of people about ways to evade sanctions, which he � U.S. sanctions he described � he characterized them as extortion and the U.S. being addicted to sanctions. I was wondering if you thought he made any progress and it’s going to be difficult to get everyone to go along with both the ones tomorrow and the ones coming up in November.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, so the President and I too have been very clear. We’re very hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime. They’ve got to � well, they’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple. And so we think most other countries � everyone with whom I spoke understands that they need to behave normally, and they understand that this is a country that threatens them. Right, we’ve got assassinations taking place in Europe, we’ve got � I could go through the list of malign activity throughout the region. It’s � these folks are bad actors and the President is determined to change their direction. Of course, I think he said this morning, hey, we’re happy to talk if there’s an arrangement that is appropriate that can lead to a good outcome. Perhaps that’ll be the path the Iranians choose to move down. But there’s no evidence to date of their desire to change and behave in a more normal way.

QUESTION: Will they be able to break sanctions, though?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The United States is going to enforce these sanctions. We’re going to enforce these sanctions. (Inaudible.) Just go look at the reporting on what’s taking place. The Iranian people are not happy � not with the Americans, but with their own leadership. They’re unhappy with the failure of their own leadership to deliver the economic promises that their leadership promised them. This isn’t � this is just about Iranians’ dissatisfaction with their own government, and the President’s been pretty clear. We want the Iranian people to have a strong voice in who their leadership will be.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Korea. Were you concerned about the foreign minister’s � Foreign Minister Ri’s intervention just after you left? It’s � he seemed to put a rather negative (inaudible).

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, you compare it to last year.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY POMPEO: Foreign minister made very clear their continued commitment to denuclearize. I think that was � I don’t � probably don’t have his words exactly right, but it’s pretty close. Compare the anger, frankly, over years and years, and hatred spewed by the North Koreans. This was � his comments were different, and put the comments aside for a minute. The mission statement’s very clear. The UN Security Council has said they must end their nuclear program and their ballistic missile program.

QUESTION: You said there’s a lot of work to do towards the �

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: You said there’s still a lot of work do towards denuclearization.

SECRETARY POMPEO: He’s got to deliver on the commitments he’s made.

QUESTION: But why (inaudible) the opportunity of being in Singapore with him to have a proper meeting and go forward, to move forward (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, you � your question has a predicate, and I’m just going to say there are lots of conversations taking place.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Did you meet him?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Lots of conversations taking place. You want to ask again?

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Lots of conversations taking place.

QUESTION: In (inaudible) comments, though, he brought up again the North Korean demand for this phased approach, and I know that you’ve said that some things are possible before the end, but not sanctions.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. That’s right.

QUESTION: So do they have a specific non-sanctions, for lack of a better word, concession that they would like to see before?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I know where you’re headed. I’m not going to comment on the negotiations and what others may have proffered or what we have considered. Just not appropriate. Wouldn’t be fair to them or to us as we try and solve this.

QUESTION: Okay, but it’s not a non-starter.

MS NAUERT: Okay, last question.

QUESTION: Is it a non-starter?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re still � we’re working our way through it.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY POMPEO: Go ahead, yeah.

QUESTION: Indo-Pacific. How can � how will you tell these countries about the free and open Indo-Pacific when your country is engaging in a trade war with China and possibly other countries?

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s � because it’s just not true. It’s just not true. Go look at who’s got all the tariffs and who the non-tariff barriers � it’s China. And the President is trying to reset that. The mission set that the President has set out is he � look, he’s said it: Zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies. How much more free and open one might � could one possibly be? That’s the President’s mission statement. The tariffs, the barriers, you see what they do to U.S. businesses who want to come operate in China. They deny them the same set of rules the Chinese businesses that want to come compete in America � we welcome them. We are open, and they need to be the same. We need fair and reciprocal responses from China. That’s what I told every one of my counterparts: America’s objective is to ensure that American businesses have the same opportunities to compete in their country that they have in ours, and when we get there, we’ll all go compete and we’ll have free and open trade amongst each of the countries, each of the �

MS NAUERT: All right, guys, we’ve got to go.

QUESTION: Anything on Venezuela?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll take one more, then I’ll �

MS NAUERT: The Secretary has a call.

QUESTION: On Turkey, they retaliated with � oh, heavens, with � they retaliated.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.

QUESTION: You seemed very optimistic during the press conference, or moderately optimistic, that progress would be made with Pastor Brunson. Does this impact that or were you expecting that, those retaliations?

SECRETARY POMPEO: No, no. Going to get Pastor Brunson home, that’s the mission. I think Ambassador Bolton[1] on the shows this morning said it right: We need to return Ambassador[2] Brunson to the United States. We should also remember every time we talk about Pastor Brunson there are other Americans still being held as well. We are as determined to get them home as we are Pastor Brunson. The local employees � want to get them out of the detention that they’re being held in as well. We are � we’re concerned about all of those folks and working our �

QUESTION: Are you still optimistic (inaudible) as long as you had hoped?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re working on it.

QUESTION: Anything on Venezuela?

SECRETARY POMPEO: No, not that you haven’t seen in the press. Ambassador Bolton said this morning there wasn’t an American connection. We don’t really have a lot of detail about what took place beyond what you’ve seen and what the � I think the White House has put out so far.

MS NAUERT: All right, thanks, guys.

SECRETARY POMPEO: All right. Thanks, everybody.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY POMPEO: All right. We’ll see you on the other end.

Source: U.S. Department of State