FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: Ladies and gentlemen, I chaired today the debate of the UN Security Council on challenges to peace and security in the Middle East. Our intention was to provide a forum to exchange views of both members of the Security Council as well as countries from the region, meaning from the Middle East.
The main objective of the meeting was to identify key region’s challenges and propose solutions to them. Participation of the countries from the Middle East was particularly important. Indeed, the debate continues. They’ve started to express their opinion. We expect interesting substantial contribution from the countries of the region to the problems, to the solution of the problems. In our opinion, only through dialogue with the countries of the region are we able to find common solutions.
In my statement, I highlighted the importance to examine the challenges faced by the Middle Eastern countries from a horizontal perspective and to address the root causes of crisis. Problems that pose a threat to peace and security include terrorists, proliferation of weapons, maritime security, energy security, cyber threats, as well as humanitarian and human rights issues.
Poland organized in February – together with the United States – a ministerial to promote peace and security in the Middle East in Warsaw. It was then announced that we would continue our engagement in the form of the Warsaw Process. All states invited to participate in that ministerial are also invited to join the seven working groups to discuss the above-mentioned horizontal issues. The work will be summed up at the ministerial conference in the first months of next year.
We believe that the Warsaw Process will allow us to agree on further actions to improve security situation in the region. We need a positive approach, in our opinion, to restore peace, economic growth in the Middle East, promoting entrepreneurship, strengthening good governance, combatting corruption, and ensuring access to educations are key to address social issues and unlock economic potential of the region.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, good afternoon. I first want to say thank you to Foreign Minister Czaputowicz and your whole team here in New York for using your time as the presidency of the Security Council to address peace and security in the Middle East. I hope all countries will heed Poland’s example of tackling major global challenges. Your leadership is just one reason President Trump is looking forward to his upcoming trip here in just a few days to Poland to commemorate the defense of our shared values during World War II.
Today’s meeting built on what we started last February in Warsaw at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. More than 60 countries met there to find new solutions to old challenges in one of the most troubled regions of the world. We spent a good deal of time at the Warsaw Ministerial discussing the greatest ongoing threat to peace and security in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran. I used my time today to condemn the regime’s support to proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, as well as its inexcusable and unprovoked sabotage and seizure of commercial vessels in the Gulf.
Iran’s continued development and testing of advanced ballistic missiles in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 is also an issue that the international community must address. Failing to confront the Iranian regime’s malign activities will only grow the regime’s multicontinental body count spanning the last 40 years.
But as in Warsaw, the conversation this morning was far broader than any one country or issue. We discussed the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, we discussed the need to keep fighting radical Islamic terrorists, we discussed the need to resolve humanitarian crises in both Syria and Yemen which have been fueled by the actions of the IRGC and its Iranian proxies, and we discussed what we can do to increase social and economic opportunity throughout the region.
There is no shortage of longstanding problems. What the world needs is new and creative solutions, and that’s why the United States and Poland launched our ministerial in February. As part of it we’ve created seven working groups dedicated to advancing shared priorities. Earlier this month we released the details on the first five of these working groups, which will begin meeting in October.
I want to be clear that no one issue or country will dominate those discussions. We will listen to all nations which want to express themselves, to work collaboratively. We hope nearly 80 countries will join us in these.
Finally, the launch of these working groups reflects the Trump administration’s commitment to building coalitions to address Mideast security challenges. We support meaningful multilateralism that gets results and reflects our values. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Polish national television. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Good afternoon. (Inaudible) TVP Polish public television. In less than two weeks President Donald Trump is going to visit Poland. That’s why I would like to ask you about relations between Poland and United States. And what role does Poland play in American foreign affairs? Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Go ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: It was rather questions to you, but let me also answer. (Laughter.) The questions are for us.
Relations with the United States are crucial. We are located in Central and Eastern Europe. For us, that threat perception is very important. We are – we feel threatened by our eastern neighbor, meaning Russia. The United States is a key state in NATO alliance. We attach great importance to our security, therefore we cooperate in military field. We are very pleased that the United States agreed to strengthen its military presence in Poland, increase the number of American troops stationing in Poland from 2,500 to 5,500.
Relations between our presidents are very good; often visits. Recent visit of President Andrzej Duda, second one to Washington few month ago, and it was already announced that President Donald Trump will pay a visit in Warsaw, in Poland, within 10 days, to commemorate, to take part in the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War and also to conduct bilateral discussions on our common interest.
We are very thankful to the United States for providing us also energy security. The discussion (inaudible) on import to Poland from the United States liquid gas, important for us to diversify resources, and for – indeed for all Europe, in order to be independent from Russia’s supply.
So a lot of possibilities to develop bilateral relations. Of course, we also share assessment of threats in the world, and our today’s meeting and involvement in the Warsaw Process is example of that. We perceive similarly the development of international relations.
For us, of course Poland is a member of the European Union, and it’s our main partner. In today’s discussions I underlined that we agree with the EU position on Middle East, also concerning JCPOA. But at the same time, we understand that the European Union should maintain close links with the United States. Only within the – with the United States we can deal with serious problems in the world, such problems as the Middle East. European Union alone will be not enough powerful and influential to deal with such important problems or actors like Russia.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’d just add we met before the Security Council meeting today to talk about relations between our two countries and issues that we’re working on together, and it took a long time. That is, we are partners across a broad range of issues. The foreign minister spoke about them. They range from energy to counterterrorism, intelligence issues, human rights issues – a broad range of issues where we’re working together.
You saw one example today at the UN Security Council meeting where we were talking about how to create stability in the Middle East. But we work together on Afghanistan. We’ve worked in lots of places around the world together trying to deliver on our shared value sets. And so if you ask the relationship, it is based fundamentally on this vision for how the world ought to work, and they are – Poland is a great partner of the United States in each one of those efforts. Even though from time to time we may not have the same solution, we’re always working towards the same objective.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you very much. A question for each gentleman.
Mr. Foreign Minister, what sort of deliverables, if any, are you expecting out of the working groups, and have other countries expressed interest in hosting the remaining two?
And Mr. Secretary, there’s a report that another Iranian vessel could be bound for Syria. I know that you issued a warning about the Grace. Is there a U.S. plan? What is the U.S. plan to prevent that from happening?
And then one final question on Russia. There are reports that a number of nuclear monitoring stations went silent in the wake of the explosion at a missile test facility. There’s – Russia says it has no obligation to disclose any information, and there are some critics who would say that the INF, the end of the INF treaty, allows them to operate with impunity. Could you address that, please?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Go ahead. Take the first one first or – I’ll take them both. The United States has a set of sanctions that preclude crude oil from being shipped to any country. We’ve made clear anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States of America. So if that ship again heads to Syria, we’ll take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that.
Remember the reason we don’t want that crude oil to go to Syria I think is shared by the entire world. That crude oil will be offloaded, sold, used by the Qods Force, an organization that has killed countless Americans and people all across the world, and we want to deny them the resources to continue their horrific terror campaign all across the world. That’s the rationale for preventing a ship that’s loaded with crude oil arriving in Syria.
Your second question, I don’t have anything I want to add today about the nuke monitoring stations in Russia. Suffice it to say we expect every country to live up to every one of its obligations with respect to reporting should there be an incident that relates to their nuclear activities.
FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: Just if I may add to the first question, try to answer about the working groups. So for the moment, we have decided on the host countries of five working groups. Indeed, we discussed with some countries to host the remaining two. They will be chaired by three, so to say, persons from Poland, United States, and the host country at the political level, under secretary in terms of Poland, and they will simply look at the issue, be it terrorism or cyber threats, and provide expertise: What should be done in order to guarantee stability in this concrete, horizontal issue?
And then we already discussed today a plan to organize a political meeting, ministerial, at the beginning of next year, probably in Washington, if we can say so, to sum up the findings of experts and reports from this working group.
We know that – at least I am aware of the fact that it’s very difficult to deal with such an important issue as Middle East. Many people tried to resolve that complex situations, but at least we decided to engage in that cooperation with the United States and at least try. It is not guaranteed that we’ll see – achieve success, but at least it’s our obligation to try to bring peace and stability to the region.
Of course, not every country is happy with that initiative. When you listen to the discussions, some countries already expressed concerns. But we are satisfied that majority of them support that way, particularly the EU member-states but also other countries. But we are aware that there is also a competition between countries, and as Secretary Pompeo said, every country who was invited to Warsaw is invited, will be invited, is being invited, to take part in the working groups – also Russia. Russia was invited. I discussed the issue with Sergey Lavrov when we met in Helsinki, and I told him that he would – that Russia would be invited.
So we invite Russia. We invite China. We invite other actors to take part in the discussions. Of course, it’s easy to organize another meeting in Moscow, what was announced today but isn’t the way to deal with that issue. So we look positively to that issue, and we hope to achieve concrete results during this process.