U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Remarks to The Press
October 14, 2020
Press Briefing Room
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. Welcome. Today I want to discuss a theme that deserves far more attention, and that is that America is a force for good in the world.
Last week the World Food Programme was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to fight hunger and improve conditions for peace around the world.
The WFP is run by Executive Director David Beasley, and American, former Governor of South Carolina, who deserves along with his team a huge amount of credit for the organization’s success over these past few years. WFP depends completely on voluntary contributions. David has grown its budget from about $6 billion in 2017 to more than $8 billion in 2019.
That money translated into real lives saved. That’s what the Nobel Peace Prize reflected. WFP now helps feed more than 100 million hungry men, women, and children in 80 countries.
And the United States – the United States has supplied 43 percent of the WFP’s budget, by far the greatest contribution from any nation in the world and more than 700, 7-0-0, more than 700 times what China has, and more than two and a half times the second-largest contributor, Germany.
This aid has been all the more critical as the China-fueled pandemic has disrupted supply chains and food supplies all across the world. America’s humanitarian leadership is alive and well and contrasts starkly with what China has done to the hungry around the world.
The team here at State is also working hard to resolve conflicts in Europe:
As the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping Azerbaijan and Armenia achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to their conflict.
We call on both countries to implement their agreed-upon commitments to a ceasefire, and stop targeting civilian areas.
In Belarus, we resolutely support the Belarusian people who continue to demand accountability from Belarus’s leaders for the suppression of democracy, as we did when we levied sanctions on those responsible, in conjunction with our democratic allies in Europe and Canada.
We also reiterate our demand for the immediate release of U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov.
Finally, we again call on Russia to cooperate fully with the international community’s investigation into the chemical nerve agent attack against Alex Navalny.
Today I’m also pleased to announce that Assistant Secretary Robert Destro – right here; good to see you – that Assistant Secretary Robert Destro of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will also serve simultaneously as the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
He will focus on advancing dialogue between the communist-run government in Beijing and the Dalai Lama; protecting the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibetans; improving respect for their human rights; and much, much more.
Of course, yesterday China, as well as Russia and Cuba, won seats on the Human Rights Council – a win for tyrants, an embarrassment for the United Nations. It’s an example, an indication of why we were right to leave that body. When institutions are irredeemable, as was demonstrated yesterday, the United States under President Trump simply will not participate.
Last week Secretary DeVos and I sent letters to universities and K-12 administrators across the United States to warn how the CCP uses Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms to spread propaganda and to stifle academic freedom.
Separately, yesterday we publicly announced our policy requesting that think tanks that accept money from foreign governments – including China’s – publicly disclose that information. We think it’s important and want the American people to know who’s influencing our think tanks so they can better evaluate the work that they publish.
And of course I’m just back from the region. I had a successful set of discussions with my counterparts from Australia and India and Japan at the Quad meetings in Tokyo last week.
One of the things we discussed was our strengthening ties with Pacific Island nations, and the United States has announced more than $200 million in new funding for the Pacific in 2020 as part of the Pacific Pledge.
State Department officials also recently held a series of virtual discussions with heads of missions from 12 Pacific Island nations on COVID-19 response, economic and development cooperation, and promoting shared values in the region, and in the Indo-Pacific more broadly.
And I want to remind, too, I want to remind businesses and government leaders that the Third Indo-Pacific Business Forum is coming up at the end of this month on the 28th and 29th of October. I launched the very first Indo-Pacific Business Forum in 2018 and look forward to addressing the event again this year.
We also are a force for good in other parts of the world.
Under Secretary Keith Krach just returned from an eight-country tour of Europe. Look, it’s clear that the 5G tide has turned. I remember skepticism from some of you – you all need to go back and look at what you wrote. (Laughter.) More than 25 EU and NATO countries are members of our Clean Network, pledging to use only trusted vendors, and there’s more to follow.
We issued a joint statement with the EU on the synergies between the Clean Network and the EU 5G Clean Toolbox. Since adoption of the Toolbox meets the criteria for being part of the Clean Network, the two work well together.
It’s important, too, to note that the boards of directors of EU telcos may be personally liable for breaches of privacy, data, and intellectual property perpetrated by a “high-risk” 5G supplier.
NATO’s Deputy Secretary General has also emphasized the importance of having a 5G Clean NATO Network. I was glad to hear that. We’ll make real progress on that as well.
The United States invites all freedom-loving nations around the world to join now more than 40 countries and 50 Clean Telcos worldwide as members of our Clean Network.
Turning to the Middle East:
The Trump administration has supported the security and prosperity of our Gulf partners like no administration has in history.
Today, I had the privilege to host the first U.S.-Saudi Strategic Dialogue, just as I hosted the Qatar dialogue on September 14th. I look forward to doing the same for our Emirati partners on October 20th.
On Lebanon: The United States welcomes the launch of negotiations earlier today between the Israeli and Lebanese governments aimed at reaching an agreement on a maritime boundary. This landmark meeting was brokered by the United States, and will be hosted by the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis.
At the request of both countries, I dispatched Assistant Secretary Schenker and Ambassador Desrocher to mediate and facilitate the opening session of talks – which we are committed to helping make successful.
And in the ongoing fight against ISIS, the transfer of the “Beatles” to the United States to face charges for their alleged roles in the torture and execution of hostages is a great win for the United States of America. Their crimes are emblematic of those ISIS has mercilessly perpetrated against the people of the region and of Americans.
We’re committed to serving justice for the families of James Foley, Peter Kassig, Kayla Mueller, and Steven Sotloff.
The Department of Justice has also announced that the United States has now successfully repatriated Americans held by the Syrian Democratic Forces who have been criminally charged for supporting ISIS. We’ve now brought back 10 adults who’ve been charged, as well as 15 children who now have a chance for a better life.
And I want to thank the SDF for their efforts. We call on nations, particularly in Western Europe, to take responsibility for their own citizens who are there.
A little bit closer to home:
The Trump administration has strengthened our region as a Hemisphere of Freedom. The OAS, under the leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, has been a strong supporter of human rights and democracy. And I will be pleased to lead the United States delegation to the OAS virtual General Assembly on the 20th and 21st of this month. This is a moment for our hemisphere to take on the regimes that repress their people and defy the principle of the Inter-American Democratic Charter – countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
I look forward to passing a resolution to protect the right to freedom of conscience, religion, or belief, building on the first-ever resolution on religious freedom last year.
Two other matters on democracy in the region:
On October 18th, the Bolivians will go to the polls. The U.S. calls on all political actors to provide for a credible and peaceful process. And we look forward to working with whomever the Bolivian people freely and fairly choose as the president to promote democracy, human rights, and prosperity for Bolivia and for the wider region.
And I’ll reiterate what I’ve said once before: Haiti’s legislative elections are now overdue. We continue to call for elections as soon as technically feasible. We understand that the OAS Secretariat has called for those elections to be held by the end of January.
Lastly, some good news from Africa:
We applaud the efforts of the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi to hold a virtual “Eastern Congo Summit” on October 7th with negotiating heads of states from Angola, Rwanda, and Uganda. This meeting demonstrates that a high-level commitment to lasting peace, stability, and economic opportunity for this historically restive eastern DRC region can take place.