QUESTION: Good morning, Mr. Secretary. You’re on the Bob Rose Show. It’s good to have you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great to be with you, sir.
QUESTION: Hey, within our listening area is the Sumter County Fairgrounds at Bushnell. I know you’ve had a – you’ve got a busy morning and a busy afternoon. Tell us a little bit about the speech you’re going to give there.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’m looking forward to getting out to the fairgrounds this afternoon. I want to share with the people who show up what President Trump has been doing as part of our foreign policy to deliver prosperity and safety and security to the American people. We’ve had a successful three years and I want to share with them the mindset, the “America First” foreign policy that President Trump and our team has delivered over these past now 36 months.
QUESTION: Where do we stand now with Iran after what’s happened recently?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve endeavored to do one simple thing, to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation. I think your listeners would all know this is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. I was traveling in South America this past week. The Iranians’ reach has come to South America and to Central America. We’re trying to get them to behave like a normal nation and reduce the risk to the American people. That’s been our mission set since the start of the administration. We continue to make progress, but make no mistake about it: This theocratic, revolutionary regime still intends to inflict harm around the world, and President Trump and our team have the responsibility to prevent it from impacting us here in the United States.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I know you met with the opposition leader Juan Guaido in Venezuela. So if I put two and two together, you’re saying there’s Iranian influence in Venezuela. And why don’t we hear anything about Venezuela as of late?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, well, it marks now a year that President Guaido has been recognized by more than four dozen nations as the duly elected leader there. President Trump’s guidance to our team has been to work to help the Venezuelan people restore their democracy, to create opportunity for them, and to ensure that Nicolas Maduro, who has caused so much harm in our region – 6 million people have been forced to leave their homes and depart from Venezuela. Some of them have come all over the world.
We want to make sure we’re doing our part to support him and the Venezuelan people in their effort to deliver democracy and an opportunity just to take care of their families. And part of my meetings down there, I met with foreign counterparts from all across the Caribbean and South America. They’re now seeing Hizballah, Iran-backed organization, in their region as well. This is a threat to the region and one that we collectively have to address.
QUESTION: And also, I know you met with some of the Costa Rican leaders as well, and in – I think it was – had to do with Chinese influence. I also saw a story recently where there was a large development that they had tried to get underway for some years now involving Frank Biden, the brother of the former vice president. Does any of these things – are there connections between any of these things? Because Joe Biden was, of course, in charge of a lot of our dealings with China while he was VP.
SECRETARY POMPEO: When I was in Costa Rica, we were talking with the leadership there about the Chinese Communist Party. Look, we all know China invests. We want good things for the Chinese people, but oftentimes in countries, when the Chinese Communist Party shows up, they’re there for a reason that isn’t economic. It’s not truly a commercial transaction. It’s designed for political influence or to create a national security objective for a Chinese state-owned enterprise.
No country ought to be engaged in those kinds of transactions, and we’ve spent a lot of time in this administration talking to countries around the world, trying to identify them those very risks to their people and to Americans. When American private information may flow across a network somewhere in South America or somewhere in Europe, we want to make sure and protect Americans’ privacy too. And talking about the Chinese Communist Party and its role in Chinese communications is a part of that.
QUESTION: Switching gears to Syria, from a foreign policy perspective, what is our goal in Syria? What do we hope to see or have happen in Syria in general?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So more broadly in the Middle East, President Trump’s mission has been twofold. He’s directed us to ensure that we continue to prevent terrorism from coming to America from these places, something we all know so well and remember from now almost 20 years ago. But second, we want to reduce the risk to soldiers who are stationed here in Florida, for Marines, airmen. We want to reduce our cost, reduce our risk. This is an “America First” foreign policy designed to accomplish those twin missions.
Syria’s no exception. It’s an enormous humanitarian crisis, where there have been upwards of 5 million people that have had to flee their homes. But America’s mission there is to ensure that we reduce the risk that ISIS or al-Qaida or any other terrorist group can ever inflict harm on an American.
QUESTION: And here’s a – last but not least, and I know it’s complex, but I’m going to throw it at you anyway.
SECRETARY POMPEO: All right. I’m ready.
QUESTION: Okay. So, our dealings with Saudi Arabia through the years – we understand geopolitical, strategically – we understood oil from that perspective. Now we’re self-sufficient. Is Saudi Arabia really our friends? And how do we handle them from a foreign policy perspective moving forward?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it is complicated, but suffice it to say the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has worked diligently to help us tamp down terrorism in lots of places. I was the CIA director before I was the Secretary of State. I watched them do work, good counterterrorism work right alongside of us. We demand the same things from Saudi Arabia that we demand from every country. They can’t support terrorism from their region. When we see that happening, when we see bad actors in Saudi Arabia, we work alongside them to take down those threats on America. They have been a good ally and a good partner in this counterterrorism fight, and we think that continues to be important for the United States of America and the security of our people.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it’s been a real pleasure. I’m glad you had the time to talk to us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: And a lot of folks are looking forward to seeing you this afternoon speaking at four o’clock at the Sumter County Fairgrounds, and we wish you safe travels.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, sir. I’m looking forward to it as well. So long.