U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Traveling Press September 19, 2019 | site |

Al Bateen Airport, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - - (September 19, 2019) - - Today, the U.S. Department of State provided the following transcript of remarks U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo made to the traveling press at Al Bateen Airport, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates:

SECRETARY POMPEO: (Inaudible) back to Washington. I wanted the opportunity to brief the President on the conversations that I had with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as well as Mohammed bin Zayed just a few minutes ago. We had good, productive conversations.

I was sent here to work to make sure that I understood how our friends and allies here in the region were viewing the challenge and the threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. I certainly accomplished that, and I think I’ll be able to give the President some important information about how it is we should think about proceeding. And with that, I’m happy to take a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you gather any new evidence that shows who was behind the attacks? And do you think you have a slam-dunk case to bring to the UN next week?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I think it’s abundantly clear and there is an enormous consensus in the region that we know precisely who conducted these attacks. It was Iran. I didn’t hear anybody in the region who doubted that for a single moment.

QUESTION: Given Zarif’s comments today, about an act of “all-out war,” does that change the calculation, and do you think there’s an opportunity for some sort of peaceful resolution to this?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Certainly that’s what President Trump – it’s what America always – wants. We’d like a peaceful resolution, indeed. I think we’ve demonstrated that. They’ve taken down American UAVs, now conducted the largest attack on the globe’s energy in an awfully long time, and we are still striving to build out a coalition. I was here in an act of diplomacy. While the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we’re here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this. That’s my mission set, what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve, and I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way. There’s no evidence of that from his statement, but I hope that that’s the case.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about sanctions, but also you just put out this statement on pulling back more than $100 million from Afghanistan. What’s your message to Ashraf Ghani about that? Is it – are you accusing his government of corruption?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve been very clear. We want – what is it? – September 28th now, so a couple weeks off yet. We want free and fair elections. We’re going to do everything we can to support them, and we need every actor in the region – every leader, every citizen in Afghanistan – to work towards that end. That’s our – that’s been our mission there for quite some time. We’re working to have a successful election a couple weeks from now.

QUESTION: And sanctions, is there anything left to sanction on Iran? The President said there’d be more coming.

SECRETARY POMPEO: There will be. There will be more sanctions. We have set about a course of action to deny Iran the capacity and the wealth so that they can conduct their terrorist – to prevent them from conducting their terror campaigns. And you can see from the events of last week there’s still more work to do. We’re going to continue to drive towards that end.

You cannot fail to see the failed policy of giving money to this regime by what happened in Saudi Arabia, right. The previous administration chose to give $150 billion. There are still those today who think, boy, if we just give Iran just a little bit more money, they’ll become a peaceful nation. We can see that that does not work. And so the President’s direction to us, to continue to prevent them having the capacity to underwrite Hizballah, Shia militias in Iraq, their own missile program, all the things that they have done to pose a threat to the world, that’s the mission set with our economic sanctions.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay. Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Great. Thanks, everybody.