U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Traveling Press February 19, 2020| site |

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - - (February 19, 2020) - - Today, the U.S. Department of State provided the following transcript of remarks U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo made at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport:

SECRETARY POMPEO: Everybody good? Everybody healthy? Everybody ready for the next region?

QUESTION: How about you?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m ready to go. Yeah, absolutely. I thought I’d just take a minute and sort of make that transition. (Inaudible) were fantastic. We got a chance to talk about the things that America can deliver to help the African people and, in turn, benefit the United States enormous if we get it right. This last set of remarks really captured that from America’s economic capacity to really do a good turn in Africa and benefit our country, too, if we get the security and economic elements right here.

I’m now headed to Riyadh where we’ll spend a lot of time talking about the security issues with the threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular. But we’ll talk about a broad range of things – the economic relationship between our two countries, human rights there in Saudi Arabia and the region as well. So it will be a full range of topics.

And then I’m looking forward to – I’ve spent a lot of time in Oman in my life. I’ve not met – I’ve met Sultan before but not in this role, so it will be my first chance to see him now as he’s leaving Oman, and I’m looking forward to that as well.

MS ORTAGUS: Anybody have a quick questions?


MS ORTAGUS: Go ahead.


QUESTION: As we were traveling, we saw still more attacks by Iran in Iraq. I’m curious for the latest from your perspective. And also, kind of curious if you can get at what the U.S. reaction might be. Are we going to do something or just continue to let them attack?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Are you referring to the two artillery rounds that landed in the Green Zone —

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. Green, yeah.

SECRETARY POMPEO: — 36 hours ago or whatever it was now? So we’re working with the Iraqi Government. They have a responsibility to keep our embassy and our military facilities secure. They’ve repeatedly not been able to achieve that. We’re looking to not only apprehend those who conducted this attack, but demanding that they still do more work.

I never broadcast what our response may be in advance, but we are mindful that it cannot become ordinary course that the Iranians through their proxy forces in Iraq are putting the lives of Americans at risk. This can’t be ordinary. This can’t be routine. There, in the end, has to be accountability connected to those very serious attacks. (Inaudible) there was a little bit of damage it sounds like, but no injuries or loss of life.

I’ve been tracking it. Our teams are tracking it. Department of Defense is tracking it too.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Iran’s Supreme Leader over the weekend said that they will not come to the table unless the United States stops their pressure campaign. Just wanted to get your response to his comments.

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re prepared to talk at any time, but they’ve got to fundamentally change their behavior. That’s what we’ve asked for consistently for now three years of the Trump administration.

We’ve laid down the outlines of what that would look like, the twelve points, the things they have to do, but they’re really common sense, right. You can’t build out your nuclear program, you can’t foment terror around the world. Even today, you were just talking about this attack in Iraq. It creates extraterritorial kinetic activity – just unacceptable. And then finally, they got to get the missile program back in a place where they’re permitted to defend themselves, but no more than that. And the human rights violations, the fact that they’re still detaining Europeans and Americans unlawfully is unacceptable.

When they’re prepared to come to the table and talk about those, so are we. We’re standing by. We’re not anxious. We’re not rushed. The pressure campaign continues. It’s not just an economic pressure campaign, it’s diplomatic pressure, it’s isolation through diplomacy as well. And you’ve seen the work that we’ve done to make sure that we have the resources in place to deter their attacks further.

MS ORTAGUS: Last question, Courtney.

QUESTION: While we’re in Saudi Arabia, do you plan on raising the place of Walid Fitaihi, who’s detained there?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m sure I’ll bring up that issue and a wide range of human rights issues as well. Each of the visits I’ve had to the kingdom during my time both as the CIA director and as Secretary of State we’ve raised these important issues, the issues that matter a lot to the American people.

MS ORTAGUS: All right, we’re going to take off, guys. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Safe travels on. Thank you.