Interview With Rich Edson of Fox News

Interview
Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 21, 2018


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you just – first of all, thank you very much.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Rich, it’s great to be with you.

QUESTION: And you revealed that North Korea has agreed to a deadline of 2021. What do you and what does the United States need to see by the end of this year?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. Well, look, we’re not going to set arbitrary deadlines in the interim. We’re hoping to see progress a little bit each day. We knew this would be a long process. It’s a complicated endeavor. But we’ve made incremental steps along the way. The visit from President Moon, the visits between the two leaders and Chairman Kim is historic. It’s the first time the North and the South have spoken about denuclearization in a material way. And they made a little bit of progress. I’m hoping I’ll be back in Pyongyang before too long to make some more progress; and if that’s the case, I’m very hopeful that Chairman Kim and President Trump will get a chance to meet in the near future as well.

QUESTION: And President Moon has suggested or said that Chairman Kim would like to meet with the President. Have those plans already started? Is the administration already discussing a meeting with Chairman Kim?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’re working on it, but there’s still a little bit of work to do left to make sure that the conditions are right and that the two leaders are put in a position where we can make substantial progress.

QUESTION: And that comes with your conversations with the North Koreans that you’re having?

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. There’s lots of conversations taking place across many different forums and venues, lots of discussions about how to move forward, what are the right sets of next steps. But the end that we can’t lose focus on, there are two UN Security Council resolutions that the whole world voted on, and they require the North Koreans to fully denuclearize. That’s the mission statement. That’s the President’s objective. And we believe that we can achieve that before too terribly long.

QUESTION: On Iran, Germany’s foreign minister has suggested that Europe should work around the U.S. dollar. Russian companies are trying to do the same. Is there a risk to the dominance of the U.S. dollar as these countries try to evade U.S. sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to be the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. We are determined to stop that behavior and to change the way the Iranian regime inflicts horrors all around the world. A good piece of that was the President’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, which to him and to me made no sense whatsoever, to begin to reimpose costs on Iran so that they don’t have the wealth, the contacts around the world, and the capacity to inflict harm on the American people and others around the world. We’re looking for our European partners to join us, but we have a big coalition that understands that these sanctions make sense and will continue to assist us in enforcing them.

QUESTION: Are the European countermeasures effective, though? Are they blunting U.S. policy?

SECRETARY POMPEO: If you just watch the traffic, it’s one-way. Folks are leaving Iran, including European businesses. And so I am very confident that we will ultimately be effective in enforcing the sanctions that President Trump has asked us to reimpose.

QUESTION: On Turkey, Pastor Brunson is still there. Have there been any productive conversations with the Turkish Government in the last couple of weeks to get him out?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Conversations, great frequency, multiple levels. I can’t comment on any particular details, only this: We have made clear that Pastor Brunson and the others that the Turkish Government is holding with no basis for having detained them need to come home.

QUESTION: Are you confident that – or that there’s – that you’re actually making progress with the Turkish Government?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t want to say anything more. I’m very hopeful that we will achieve resolution on this before too long.

QUESTION: On Venezuela, the State Department says it supports the Venezuelan people. Maduro is still there. The country’s economic situation continues to deteriorate. Is the U.S. prepared to move to a different phase in its interaction or in its engagement with Venezuela to try to resolve what’s happening there?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I think you’ll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership – folks who are working directly against the best interests of the Venezuelan people.

QUESTION: Is that sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s remarkable – I don’t want to get ahead of the administration on decisions like that. But it’s always remarkable when I interact with those who know Venezuela best. This is a country with the capacity for great wealth and great opportunity to take good care of their people. They are not a country that is starved of resources. And yet this regime of Maduro has caused such pain and hardship, but now real humanitarian risk and refugees traveling all throughout South and Central America. We are determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say.

QUESTION: Is the only way that that happens for Maduro to leave?

SECRETARY POMPEO: However it happens is the outcome that will be chosen by the Venezuelan people, and I think they understand that Maduro has not been someone who has taken care to ensure that the best interests of the Venezuelan people are actually reflected in their governmental policies.

QUESTION: So he should leave?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll leave that to the Venezuelan people.

QUESTION: On China, is the Chinese Government already interfering in U.S. politics? I know the National Security Advisor had mentioned that that is the case. And does the United States have more to worry about on that front – election interference – from the Chinese Government than it does from Russia, let’s say?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Rich, we worry about election interference from lots of places, certainly from China. We’ve seen what the Russians did back in 2016, and frankly, we know what the Russians have done for decades now. But it’s not simply Russia and China. North Korea too has a great capacity to do things in the cyber world that could have an impact on our elections. Iran, too. There are multiple countries – and frankly, nonstate actors as well. DHS, FBI, our Intelligence Community, the State Department where we have a role as well, is involved in making sure that the elections that, frankly, start in just a few days – folks will start voting here in the United States before too long.

QUESTION: And the U.S. is prepared?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I think we’re – I think we are in a place that we have never been before in terms of our preparedness.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, Rich. Thank you very much.