Interview With Deneige Broom of KRIV Fox 26 Houston Morning News

Interview
Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
Houston, Texas
March 12, 2019


QUESTION: Good morning. And the Secretary of State does have a packed schedule, but he was able to squeeze us in for a few minutes here. So thank you so much for being here this morning. Welcome to Houston.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Great to be here.

QUESTION: Now, in your keynote address tonight, right around 6 o’clock, you’ll be talking to people about – the title of your speech is the role of energy in this 21st century political system. So what do you plan to tell or talk to those American businesses about their role in this political ecosystem?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So what we’re doing in America with respect to energy is incredibly important to what I do every day, working to keep Americans safe through diplomacy. Our capacity to produce energy to convince adversary countries that we don’t rely on them for energy and to tell our friends that we can assist them by providing energy to their country to take leverage away from their adversaries has proven incredibly important. So the boom, the American energy boom is important. Our administration’s worked hard to make that happen, and it’s keeping Americans safe.

QUESTION: In talking about those foreign affairs, we do have to switch gears to Venezuela. Yesterday you announced that you’ll be removing all the diplomats from the embassy there, in part because of that deteriorating situation, but I want to also quote part of your tweet. You said, in part, “the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.” Are you willing to elaborate on what constraint on U.S. policy is and where you see things going after this?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, sure. So the conditions on the ground have deteriorated over the last days and weeks. The Maduro regime has wreaked a real tragedy on the nation, the people of Venezuela. Our mission has been to restore democracy and help the Venezuelan people. Our embassy was an important part of that; the people there have done great work. But it was time for them to come back. Their security is always paramount. And it’s just gotten very difficult.

It’s also the case that when you’re making decisions about how to proceed, you have to consider the fact that there are still many Americans there on the ground. We wanted to get our diplomatic team back so that our capacity to work with Brazil and Colombia, and all the countries who have joined this enormous coalition to try to benefit the people of Venezuela, can be made in a way that doesn’t create further risk to American diplomats.

QUESTION: And you were talking about the humanitarian crisis. There’s already been a lot of money for aid going there. What else moving forward, since it has really only gotten worse?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the American taxpayers have been very generous. We’ve delivered a couple hundred metric tons of assistance, medicine, food, hygiene kits. We haven’t been able to get it in; the Maduro regime has prevented us from delivering that. It’s horrific to deny food to starving people or medicine to the sick, but that’s what Maduro has chosen to do.

We’re going to keep at that. We’re going to continue to work with coalition partners. We’re going to try to help build up democratic institutions in a way that will ultimately convince Maduro that his days are numbered, that he ought to leave, and he ought to allow the duly elected Interim President Juan Guaido to begin to take charge to start the process of rebuilding this country that can be such a tremendous place.

QUESTION: And switching gears to North Korea, with the last – I know you know that it was coming – with the last summit with President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it was essentially a stalemate. At least that’s what it seems to us, because Kim Jong-un was saying he doesn’t – he hasn’t released a plan yet, at least, for denuclearization. President Trump says that he isn’t willing to lift the U.S. sanctions to make that happen. So it seems like a stalemate, but you’ve actually been on record saying you don’t see it like that. Why is that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, this is a long journey. We’ve been at this for a couple decades in the United States. What President Trump has done is he has built a global coalition. These are UN Security Council resolutions; they’re not American sanctions, they’re global sanctions. The whole world understands the threat that Chairman Kim’s nuclear weapons present to the world. Chairman Kim’s now committed to giving them up. He said he would denuclearize. He’s told me that face to face, personally, no less than half a dozen times. Now we need to figure out how to do it, how to achieve it. Our goal is to keep America safe, to keep South Korea and Japan from being under this threat. And when we do, we hope we can make a brighter future for the North Korean people as well. That’s the deal we’re trying to get to. President Trump understood that what was offered wasn’t sufficient, so more work to do.

QUESTION: And you having talked to him directly, Kim Jong-un, what is it about his statements that you actually believe?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we only will value action. We all – talk is cheap. It’s important that we actually begin to deliver on the commitments. The two presidents back in June of last year were in Singapore. Each made serious commitments to the other. Chairman Kim committed to denuclearize; we committed to working to make North Korea have a brighter future and to stability and security arrangements on the peninsula. Our allies, South Korea and Japan, are prepared to work alongside of us. What we’ll need to see is action, and that’s what we’re counting on, and it’s what I’m hopeful we’ll get in the months ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you so much --

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.

QUESTION: -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And we’ll send it on back to you, Jose and Melissa.