QUESTION: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary, for joining us today.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Karen, it’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: I wanted to start out talking about the G7 summit, just wrapped up. President Trump talked about a lot of issues, and what I want to start with is China and the trade war. Many people believe that these proposed tariffs, if they go through, could lead the U.S. into a potential recession. I wanted to get your thoughts on that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I used to represent a place not unlike Indiana, but Kansas – farmers, manufacturers. I ran a small manufacturing company. My farm – my family had a farm down in Winfield, Kansas. I know these things pretty well, and President Trump is fighting for those very people.
I watched China not take our products for years and indeed decades under Republican and Democratic administrations alike. President Trump is determined to fix that. He simply wants a fair and reciprocal trade relationship so Indiana farmers can sell their products, so Indiana manufacturers can sell their products into China, so Indiana companies can invest in China, the same way that Chinese companies invest in Indiana. That’s pretty simple, it’s pretty straightforward – just fair, equal, reciprocal. Those are the ideas that President Trump is driving towards, and we hope that China will see it that same way and we can achieve that outcome. We are aimed at doing that just as quickly as we possibly can.
QUESTION: Are we close to reaching any kind of agreement?
SECRETARY POMPEO: In the business I’m in now, I try not to set timelines. But know, and the Indiana people should know, that we’re working every day on this problem set – not only the State Department, but the Trade Representative, the Treasury Department, all of the folks that are involved in America’s trade and economic relationships. We’re working to grow America, to create jobs. The President’s very proud of the incredibly low unemployment rate all across America. Those are things we’re proud of, we think they’re great accomplishments, and we’re confident that our efforts will continue to be successful in that regard.
QUESTION: I wanted to move on to – President Trump has labeled China’s President Xi Jinping an enemy, and just a few days later he called him, quote, “a brilliant leader.” He also talked about rethinking tariffs and rethinking making them larger. He told reporters at the G7 that it was part of his strategy. And I wanted to get your thoughts about what it’s like to negotiate relationships in that climate.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the trade negotiations are primarily not mine. They belong to the Trade Representative and Treasury, but I’m involved in a lot of negotiating. I’ve been working with Chairman Kim in North Korea, working to deliver a good outcome in Afghanistan on behalf of the very people I’m going to speak to today, here at the American Legion, our great veterans, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines. President Trump provides us with the background, the direction, the principles which guide us – the aims to which our negotiations are aimed and are set, and we work diligently to deliver on behalf of President Trump to get what he’s looking for – what he promised the American people he would do to deliver better security for the American people.
QUESTION: Okay. Moving on to North Korea, it’s no secret the President said he’s not happy with the recent launch of several short-range ballistic missiles. Many people may question – when will the President say, “Enough is enough”? Is he taking a stronger stance on North Korea?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The President’s taken the strongest stance in an awfully long time on North Korea. We didn’t get to this situation in the two and a half years that President Trump’s been in office. The North Koreans built out their nuclear program over the years that preceded us, and what President Trump that’s done has been unique is to build out a global coalition. We have Security Council resolutions that have put real pressure on North Korea, global – global sanctions, not American sanctions, sanctions that the entire world asked a simple thing: We asked North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons and to denuclearize. When they do that, the President’s made pretty clear there’ll be a brighter future for the people of North Korea. I hope that Chairman Kim will work with – put his team in the field to work with my team and deliver a good, solid outcome for the American people.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s move on to Iran. The President has labeled Iran the number one nation of terror, but he seems optimistic about reaching a new deal on the nuclear weapons program. This morning, there’s news of President Rouhani refusing to meet with President Trump unless those sanctions are released on Tehran. I wanted to get your thoughts on that. Do you foresee these two parties coming together to find a resolution?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, back to first principles: When we entered office, when President Trump took over, Iran was on a pathway to a nuclear weapons program. It was improving its missile systems and it was conducting assassination campaigns and terror campaigns all around the world. And it had money that the Obama administration had given them. We flipped all of that. We broke out of the deal, which guaranteed a pathway for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. We’re now denying the kleptocrats in Tehran the resources they need to foment terror around the world. Indeed, you can watch them have to make choices about which terrorists to fund. It’s a good thing when they’re restricted in their capacity to put the American people at risk.
We’re incredibly focused on achieving a resolution. We want Iran to be a normal nation. We want the people of Iran to be successful in changing the behavior of their leadership. When they do that, we’re happy to sit down at the table. We want the Iranian people to be successful as well. That can’t happen while their leadership is engaged in its revolutionary activities.
QUESTION: Speaking about them wanting to be successful, your thoughts on the President willing to offer short-term loans to repair the damage done by these sanctions? Are there any preconditions that the U.S. needs for that to happen?
SECRETARY POMPEO: When – the President said when the conditions are right. We’ve laid out pretty clearly what those conditions are. When the Iranian leadership chooses to comply with those. I just kind of went through them, although very quickly. When we do that, we’ll have kept the American people safer, and that’s the mission set. It’s not to punish anyone. It’s to deliver security for the American people. When we do that, we’re happy to sit down with Iran and we’re happy to provide them the resources and the capital they need to be a successful country.
QUESTION: Okay. And one last quick question: Now the G7, I understand, is going to be in the United States next year, and President Trump has mentioned maybe hosting it at his Miami, Florida, golf resort there. The argument here is that he may be overstepping his bounds.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, goodness knows, I don’t know where it’ll be. It will be in the United States next year. Well, here’s what I know: The American G7, when we gather these leaders from around the world for this important set of meetings, will be on the important topics of the day, the issues that affect Indianans and affect the good people who are here today as part of the American Legion. Those are the things President Trump is focused on, and that’s what our G7 will be about when we host it next year.
QUESTION: Okay. So no concern about him potentially violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ll find a great place to host them and we’ll have a very successful meeting. I’m confident of that.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.