QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Welcome here at BILD Live, where we have the U.S. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, good morning.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) America has worldwide the most death cases of the corona crisis. Is there anything that the American people expect from the – from Germany? What’s your message to Merkel?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, we work closely with our German friends and partners. This is a global pandemic. We work with them on solutions for how to get equipment to right places, how to get a cure and a therapeutic and a vaccine, all of those things. Our scientists, our private sector entities are in constant contact. This is a global pandemic. It’s times like this that having a great partner like Chancellor Merkel in Germany working alongside the United States to ultimately deliver good outcomes, and not only for the people of Germany and the United States, but for people all across the world.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has named China and the United States in one breath, has said that China has reacted too authoritative with the crisis, and the United States played down this problem. Does that – does that bother you when the United States and dictatorship China are criticized in one breath?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the two countries have responded very differently for sure. The United States has taken aggressive action. President Trump has led from the front to make sure that we respond in a way that protects not only the American people, but provided unequaled assistance to countries around the world – now some $400 million-plus of foreign assistance coming from the United States of America. We’ve said consistently that we regret that the – this virus, this epidemic that began in Wuhan, China wasn’t known quickly enough, that the Chinese Government, the Chinese Communist Party didn’t provide that information in a timely fashion. That’s most unfortunate because it created real risk around the world, and those are two very different kinds of response. I know that the German Government and the American Government will work together to make sure that as we move forward, we’ll continue to reduce risk.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) The Berlin government has accused the United States of piracy – that was false accusations – because the United States were confiscating masks, and they had to say they were sorry afterwards. So are you worried about this anti-Americanism spirit in the capital here in Germany?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We certainly want our good partners to talk about that partnership in a way that reflects the fundamental, important relationship between our two countries. To your point – and we’ve seen this broadly, not just in this instance – but we’ve seen false information in the media. We’ve seen disinformation, some of it probably unintentional. People just didn’t know – maybe some of the statements from some of the German Government leaders or people just didn’t really know what was going on. But some of it, too, is intentional disinformation, and those are dangerous. Disinformation coming from any place, whether it’s the disinformation that emanated from Iran or anywhere, presents real risk. We have to have good data; we have to have good information. The medical professionals, the epidemiologists around the world who are going to ultimately resolve this and allow the world economy to get back on track, need good information. We need every country participating in this in a transparent, open, accurate way.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Last month, we talked about making trade more expensive to hire customers. Would it be possible to lower these customs to do something for the U.S. economy being so important for the worldwide economy?
SECRETARY POMPEO: With respect to tariffs, I think President Trump’s been absolutely unambiguous. We want low tariffs. We want no non-tariff barriers. We want open, free, robust trade. Our ask there is that we have fair trade, that it is reciprocal. That is, if there is a tariff or a non-tariff barrier that’s in place, that we both remove it. If the United States is doing it, we’ll remove it if that other country – Germany, wherever – will do it. We want fair, reciprocal, even trade. And you’re right, fewer trade restrictions allow the global economy to grow, and as we come out of this that will matter an awful lot. I hope the EU, European countries will join us in this effort to reduce these trade restrictions in a fair and reciprocal manner. If we do that, I’m confident the globe will come out of this in a way that gets us back on track.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) You’ve said it yourself, this crisis started in Wuhan, China. Does there need to be a global debate if the Chinese Government should be held accountable for the damage done?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, there needs to be more than a global debate. It’s important to understand how this began, where this began, where it originated, and that’s science. That’s fact-based; that is not political. It’s important to know that. When we try to figure out how it is the case that this happened, importantly so that we can ensure that something like this does not happen again or at least we reduce the risk that something like this happens again, it’s absolutely essential that we understand how these viruses grew, how they began, where they began, to take down this risk. We’ve seen these stories about Chinese wet markets, we’ve seen stories about precisely where this virus originated, and it’s important that the whole world gets this. We want the globe’s best scientists, including Chinese scientists, to be participants in making sure that we evaluate where this began, where it originated, how it was moved around the globe, so that we can take the – we’ve had to shut down the global economy. That is tragic. There will be real costs associated with that. We need to make sure that no country ever causes something like this to happen again and that we’re all working together to reduce the risk of a recurrence of a threat like COVID-19.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Once again, should China pay for the damage done?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve said pretty consistently, as had President Trump, we’re looking forward. We’re trying to find our path to making sure that we reduce risk as we move forward in the days and weeks and months ahead. We’re incredibly focused on this. There’ll be a time to make sure that we all understand what happened and that those who are responsible are held accountable for that. I’m very confident that that process will take place. For the moment, I think it’s absolutely essential that we focus on the task ahead of us, getting systems in place such that we can reopen the American economy, and ultimately the global economy as well. There’ll be a time for recriminations.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, good day to you. Thank you very much and a Happy Easter.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, thank you very much. Have a good day.
QUESTION: Thank you. You too.