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  Secretary of State Pompeo Discusses Foreign Policy Hosted by German...  CSPAN  July 2, 2020 11:24am-11:55am EDT

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campaign 2020 trail. joining the conversation every day on our live call-in program "washington journal" and if you missed any of our live coverage, watch any time on demand at c-span.org or listen on the go with the free c-span radio app. secretary of state mike pompeo discussed foreign policy and trans-atlantic relationships at a virtual summit. he talked about the west's relationship with china, warning about that country's influence, including their handling of the coronavirus pandemic and treatment of hong kong. >> good morning. good afternoon from brussels. welcome back to brussels forum 2020 in its 15th edition. today, we're very pleased and honored to welcome u.s. secretary of state michael
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pompeo for a special conversation with us. we have hosted the secretary with us before in brussels, in 2018, very pleased to have him back again for what is sure to be a closely watched conversation on critical challenges facing us in foreign policy terms on both sides of the atlantic and trans-atlantic relationships. as always, let me say a word of thanks to our partners. to our founding partners, daimler and the foreign ministry of affairs, to deloitte, and our associated knowledge partners. we're grateful to all of them. let me also say a very special thank you to u.s. mission to the european union, and in fact, to all three u.s. missions here in brussels for their consistent partnership and support. let me just also say a word about our format today. the secretary will make some brief remarks to begin with, and then we're pleased to be able to turn this over for conversation to germany's correspondent for
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the "wall street journal," he will have a conversation with the secretary, and then the secretary's kindly agreed to take a few questions from our virtual audience as well. so once again, mr. secretary, thank you for being with us in brussels. thanks to all of you for joining. over to you. >> welcome, secretary of state. welcome to our viewers. we'll just, i think, let the secretary of state have some opening remarks, tell us what's on his mind, what's keeping his busy, and we'll proceed with the discussion and take some questions from the audience. so secretary of state, please, go ahead. >> thank you. and ian, thank you for inviting me to be with you all. sorry i couldn't do this in person. hello to everyone who is logged in to watch this today. a few brief remarks. as ian referred to, 18 months ago in brussels, i made the case to you all that multilateral institutions aren't an end of
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themselves. we have to honestly assess what they do or don't achieve. we have to see them for what they are, not what we wish them to be. i don't think that was a favorite among the european press. but you should know that privately, many of my counterparts told me they agreed with me. they're realistic about the state of these institutions and they too want to fix them. i'm starting to see more realism on the continent as it relates to the threat of the communist party in china. we should address that challenge together, as trans-atlantic partners have met many challenges. and that's what i want to focus on today. first, data. the truth. we need to acknowledge what's happening. i spoke this month with the eu foreign ministers and last friday at an audience in copenhagen. i listened to a lot of feedback about the chinese communist party and i laid out a siri erif
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facts. i talked about the provocative military actions including their continued aggression in the south china sea, deadly border confrontations in india, an opaque nuclear program, and threats against peaceful neighbors. talked about how the ccp has broken multiple international commitments including those to the w.h.o., the w.t.o., the united nations, and the people of hong kong. i talked, too, about the ccp's predatory economic practices such as trying to force nations to do business with huawei, an arm of the chinese communist party's surveillance state. i talked about many of its violations of european sovereignty, including its browbeating of companies like hsbc. talked about beijing's legion human rights abuses which continue to shock us all. that's it, just the facts. but they lead to a conclusion in our judgment. the united states is not forcing europe to choose between the
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free world or china's authoritarian vision. china is making that choice between freedom and democracy. the united states was slow to recognize this reality of the rising authoritarian regime and the implications it had for us to our free society. europe was slow, too. but the ccp's cover-up of the coronavirus, an outbreak that began in wuhan, china, which has now killed tens of thousands of our people and hundreds of thousands of people across the world, i think it's accelerated everyone's awakening. europeans, like americans, are starting to find their voice. the commission in the external action service last spring identified china as a systemic rival. very important acknowledgment. the lithuanian intelligence services national threat assessment identified china as a potential threat for the first time in 2019 and did so again here in 2020. the g-7 condemned china's national security law targeting
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hong kong. i greatly appreciated, too, how the u.s. called out china for its disinformation campaign surrounding the pandemic. it's also not just words. the new alliance on china is gaining steam. united kingdom has a strong stand against the ccp's attempt to crush hong kongers' autonomy. the czech republic has secured networks, clean networks in 5g, and my friend secretary-general stoltenberg has made a walking call to make the alliance a greater focus. clearly, there's a trans-atlantic awakening to the truth of what's happening. concerns are rightly growing about the ccp's exploitation of multilateral bodies too. chinese leaders at the international telecommunications union and the international civil aviation organization have leveraged their positions to
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advance china's narrow interests. certainly, the united states and many of our free willed friends have our differences on the subject of multilateralism, but we can all agree these institutions should be rooted in democratic values, and reflect the interests of all member states. look, we have already done some good work this spring. i led a global diplomatic effort to make sure the next director general of the world intellectual property organization protects intellectual property rights on behalf of the world, not on behalf of china. the trans-atlantic world has thrivered like no other part of the world since world war ii, so much in part because our countries protect intellectual property. i want to thank our friends in france and the uk with whom we worked closely for their efforts in securing that important and good outcome. we should keep protecting multilateral bodies as transatlantic partners. my message today to all of you is this, we have to work together to continue the
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trans-atlantic awakening to the china challenge in the interest of preserving our free societies, our prosperity, and our future. it won't be easy. it's tempting for many, particularly in our business communities, who make money in china to say we must calm tensions and simply accept an n increasingly belligerent ccp. there's no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism. i don't want the fuch toor be shaped by the ccp, and i would wager no one on this call wants that either. to that end, today, i'm pleased to announce that the united states has accepted the representative's proposal to create a u.s./eu dialogue on china. i'm excited about this. a new mechanism for discussing the concerns we have about the threat china posed to the west and our shared democratic ideals. i look forward to kicking it off with high representative burrell as soon as we can pull it together. my invitation to america's friends in europe is to defend
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these values in our time, that they may shape the world for the good in the future just as they have done in the past. we'll defend these values together. with that, i'm happy to take questions from you and others as well. >> thank you very much, secretary of state. that is an exciting piece of news. i know that your eu counterpart burrell proposed that last week, i believe. how is it going to work? could you tell me what kind of a dialogue is it? you and him directly? is it going to be linked via brussels? does it include bilateral communication as well? how is it going to work? >> so you're right. this is new in the sense of the proposal came from high representative burrell just within the last handful of days, but you should know we were very interested. we put a big team on working together to begin to outline the shape of what this would look like. and i'm very hopeful that i'll be able to travel to europe here in just a handful of weeks to go
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kick that off. so we will certainly start it at a senior level, where we will outline the mission set, and then while i don't know exactly what shape it will take, i'm confident we will set up a structure that will enhance our collective shared knowledge and our collective responses to insuring we protect freedom for every democracy on both sides of the atlantic. >> is there a timeframe for this? where do you expect it to really kick off and start operating? >> i'm hopeful it becomes very real just in the next few weeks. it's a little more difficult because we're all a little stuck in terms of our capacity to travel. but i would expect that we will have teams in place identified in the next weeks, and then real work to begin. it's something that has a starting point that we want to kick off, but i don't know there's an end point. this is something i expect will go on for an extended period of time because the challenge that we are jointly trying to solve for is how do we preserve
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freedom and democracy on both sides of the atlantic and protect our citizens, eu citizens and american citizens alike, from the very fact set that i laid out in the beginning of my remarks today. >> and knowing the european union, i myself have covered it for over a decade, i know these people love a good committee. are you concerned that this might bog down the real action on the pressing challenges and sort of draw out this lengthy debate which will become technical and so on? the eu loves these things and it has shown in the past a sort of tendency towards more sort of discussion and little action. do you fear that that could be the outcome? >> i'm realistic. you should know that people in america sometimes love good committees too. the united states government is not immune to that bureaucratic phenomenon. guilty too of that from time to
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time. i'm very hopeful that this will be different from that. indeed, what i'm hopeful is, well, back up. the first thing we all have to do is make sure we have a collective data set. can't take collective action unless you have a shared understanding of the core facts. i don't think anybody would dispute what i just laid out. we should build on that. once we're confident that we have a shared understanding of the threat that is posed by the chinese compnimunist party, we begin to take action. there's a lot of work that's been done already. a lot of information sharing that has already taken place. what we're counting on is this dialogue won't be a resistance or, as you described, an outlet for energy with no action but rather a catalyst for action. so on our side, we will work to make sure we have a shared set of facts, and then create a set of proposals for things we can do together. look, we know this, too.
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not everybody in the eu will share -- there will be 27 -- two dozen different views. this is true on many issues. but i believe that by doing this, we can form a collective judgment and find a set of places where there is significant overlap and then begin to execute the correct responses. the same way the trans-atlantic alliance has always preserved democracy and freedom. a set of collective responses that will preserve and protect those very freedoms that the chinese communist party wants to undermine each and every day. >> i think in outlining this, you made two very important point. first, there is an awakening in europe about the rule of china and how it shapes the global order today. and also, that a lot of people are making a lot of money in china, and there's sort of a tension between these two awarenesses. these two issues, china is responsible for much of the growth in the european union,
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especially for its biggest economy, germany. i remember last year when president trump was at the height of the negotiation with china over a new trade arrangement, chancellor merkel traveled to beijing with a bunch of ceos in tow, and it was seen in some american circles as slightly undermining the american argument when europe is doing business with china and america is trying to refigure the whole relationship. your counterpart, mr. burrell himself, he took you from frank sinatra, so he explained the foreign policy as a sort of we have it our way, the third way. won't be the american way, won't be the chinese way. we'll try to kind of straddle the line, and what you're saying is basically, i think, you can't do that. you have to at one point, you'll have to wake up to the reality of things. what, though, if europe continues to attempt to straddle
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this divide, as the divide widens and a lot of people fear that the divide will widen, given what's happening over covid and so on. is there a contingency plan on your behalf on the behalf of the administration? what happens if the europeans just stubbornly go to the middle? >> so we have big trade relationship with china, too. it's a market of a billion plus people. that's important to the united states economy. it is not necessarily an either/or. but what is required is that the rule set on which that trade engages has to be reciprocal. it has to be fair. the europeans know this, too. make no mistake. the chinese have stolen a lot of german secrets. and the german people are worse off for that. billions of dollars of intellectual property stolen by the chinese communist party outside of germany, the
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hard-working german people created that intellectual property, worked hard for it, built it, protected it in their system, and the chinese came and stole it. they have done it all across europe. they continue to do it. they're doing it in the united states as well. that's a place where we can work very closely together. it is not you have to choose business over confronting the chinese communist party. indeed, confronting the chinese communist party creates the opportunity for increased wealth creation in europe and in the united states of america. and so the last thing to say about this is recall that china needs markets, too. this is what president trump figured out that frankly no president had been willing to undertake before. was that china needs access to western knowledge, western know-how. we need to make sure they do that through the system of the rules-based order that has served the trans-atlantic so well for all of these years. and so i think the people of europe will demand the same
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thing that the people of the united states of america are demanding. is that we no longer allow the chinese communist party to dictate the rules and terms and conditions of those relationships when they're not fair and equitable to our peoples. that's what president trump has been seeking. i'm confident that's what the europeans will seek from their leaders as well. >> thank you. and if we go beyond the issue of china and move on to another issue, which is crucial for the trans-atlantic relationship at the moment. you yourself have served during the cold war in germany when i think there were around 300,000 u.s. troops on the ground there. there are 30,000, and president trump has announced he will pull out around 10,000 of those troops because of a number of issues, including germany's economic ties and the energy with russia, germany's failure to reach 2% of the budget
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payments for nato, et cetera. how would you explain this strategic decision? because we know that u.s. strategic depending on everywhere else has concluded since 2014 that russia does sort of pose a threat to europe and to the united states' interests. how would you explain this to your counterparts in europe who were sort of surprised, i think we even saw the polish president do that yesterday, who visited the white house and whose country stands to gain from this move in terms of getting some troops over to poland. he himself pleaded with the president not to do this, not to pull these troops out. so what would be your strategic analysis here? how does this help american interests? >> so several thoughts. first, we do consider russia to
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be a serious threat. spending 1% of your gdp on defense as germany does, acknowledges they may well not take it as serious a threat as the united states of america takes it. they need to. they need to live up not to a commitment that the united states made on their behalf or not to the commitment that the eu drove through them, it's a commitment that germany made that it would live up to. and it has to date chosen not to do that. the president has been very clear, that doesn't show the resolve that vladimir putin needs to see from germany. you referenced briefly the pipeline, where germany is now going to have a significant piece of their energy connected to russia in such a deep and fundmal way that vladimir putin, who appears to now going to be in power for quite some time, is going to have the capacity to have a real -- a capacity to inflict real costs on germany if he chose to do so or threatened to do so.
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as for our decision, president trump has spoken to this. secretary esper will be in london today and in brussels i think tomorrow. he'll talk about our plan and how we're thinking about delivering it. but you should understand this and i hope our european partners will understand this as well. when you see what we ultimately conclude, how we ultimately deliver on that statement that the president has made, that they're aimed squarely at what we believe to be democracies' fundamental interests and certainly america's most fundamental interest. there's been a long time since there has been a strategic review of our force posture all across the world. we undertook that starting about two and a half years ago, whether it was the forces in africa, in asia, in the middle east, and europe. we began to say, these are often decisions that were made in a different time. should we reallocate those in a different way? should we have a different
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composition of those forces? everyone always wants to talk about ground troops. i get it. i was a young tank officer. you described that. it's nothing i like as much as a good m-1 tank, but it's often the case that the capacity to deter russia or other adversaries isn't determines any longer by just having a bunch of folks garrisoned someplace, so we really went back to look at what is the nature of the conflict, the nature of the threat, and how should we allocate our resources whether it's our resources in the intelligence community, our resources from the air force or marines. our broad set of allocation of security apparatus. our ability to counter cyberthreats. what's the best way to do this, and the decision you see the president made with respect to germany is an outcome from a collective set of decisions about how we're going to posture our resources around the world. i'll close with this last thought in answer to your question. this is going to dictate that in
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certain places there will be fewer american resources. there will be other places, i just talked about the threat from the chinese communist party, so now threats to india, threats to vietnam, threats to malaysia, indonesia, south china sea challenges, the philippines. we'll make sure we're postured appropriately to counter them, pla. we think that's the challenge of our time, and we're going to make sure we have resources in place to do that. to the extent that that changes, the difference in what the united states decides to do, impacts adversely a threat someplace, it may be that other nations need to step up and take responsibility for their own defense in ways they hadn't done previously. so we want to do this in full consultation with all of our partners around the world and certainly our friends in europe. >> another issue that similarly is sort of chipping away at the confidence in the trans-atlantic relationship here in europe is the issue of iran, which i think you're also directly involved
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in. is there any sort of contingency planning for the eventuality that iran will restart the nuclear program? the maximum pressure campaign, some said it works but it may well lead and it seems to be leading to tehran going back to what was, you know, the whole point of this agreement was to avoid them striving to achieve, to create a nuclear weapon. what would you do in that sense? i think you have said earlier on cbs in an interview that you're confident they will not go there. but they seem to be suggesting they are going there. what would you do if they went there? and the europeans are not onboard, it would appear. >> well, the europeans just have a different view of how to achieve that. we fundamentally think they're wrong. we have had this conversation for three and a half years with them. we continue to have a disagreement there. there's no doubt the maximum
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pressure campaign has been successful. hezbollah has fewer resources. we have depleted their capacity to build out systems they would have built out if we had continued to do business and throw wealth and money and resources at the ayatollah. we have constrain them, built out a big coalition to counter iran in the gulf states and all across the region. i'm very confident that the approach that our administration has taken is correct. and it's also true that the iranians have chosen not to violate their commitments under the jcpoa, their sovereign decision to do so. in october of this year, the armed embargo will expire. that can't happen. the iranians will be permitted to buy weapons systems. they'll become one of the largest sellers of weapons systems around the world. they'll be able to buy chinese jets and russian jets. i can't imagine that a citizen of slovenia or germany or greece or any other european country would conclude that it was wise to allow the iranians to have
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that capability and the capacity to generate wealth by selling those weapons systems, so the united states is going to make sure that doesn't happen. we have the u.n. security council resolution we'll prentd in the we are hopeful we will convince all partners on the u.n. security council that extending the arms embargo on iran makes sense. it's one of the central failures after the nuclear deal, four years-plus we're having to contemplate the expiration of that, which is central to eur e european security, not just the american people. watching it closely. i won't say more than we are confident we have the capability collectively to ensure iran never gets a nuclear weapon. >> and do you have the confidence that you will not be alone in this? is there an alliance of the willing, including european nations to actually, you know,
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take more significant action in this regard? >> look, i don't know -- i think the europeans will have a very difficult argument to make to the world that they're not prepared to do what it takes to extend this arms embargo. i don't think any freedom-loving nation should stand by to extend this arms embargo and hopeful the europeans as the weeks tick by will conclude the same thing the united states did. that it's imperative the arms embargo be extended. as for the coalition. many european countries are with us, not only the chase france, germany and the united kingdom have a say in this. there are many european countries that share our view, and lots of countries in the region. israel, the gulf states, all of whom understand that the world's largest state sponsor of terror, terrorism, sis squarely in
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tehran, and they're prepared to be alongside, taking the actions we need to ensure there's never a nuclear weapon in the hands of the ayatollah. a very dangerous thing. >> you answered the covid-19 crisis, and that's basically the reason why we're doing this, in this kind of virtual online way. there's a lot of concern about transatlantic travel which has been obstructed by this. initially the united states closed borders for europeans and now the europeans are drafting plans to reopen their borders but it would appear, a lot of reportings and discussions, that the european union could sort of impose restrictions on travel from the united states, because of the levels of infection. is there any way to get around this? i mean, do you see now that the holiday season is coming. obviously businesses are eager to restart movement. is there any -- i mean, you've spoke ton your counterparts about this. is there any solution that you've discussed?
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>> so it's a real challenge. it's a challenge for all of us to decide how and when to open up our economies and our society. everybody's trying to figure that out from city councilmen and mayors, county commissioners, provincial leaders across the world, governors here in the united states but there are enormous, complex issues, what the productivity in travel is in order to ensure we get our economies going again and provide protection and safety for our people. we're working with our european counterparts to get that right. both today, denied travel to europe and vice versa. that's the option we all sit in now and all taking seriously the need to figure how to get this open. we need to get to our global economy back going again. enormous destruction of wealth resulted in poverty in many parts of the world. we need to get our economies back going again. we'll work closely with our
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european friends broadly. different views again inside the european union. we've heard have a dozen or more country that have there willingness to open up the borders to anyone let alone the united states of america. we'll work to get it right. we want it to be science-based, health-based that our homeland security team as well as the state department dleliver a process instead of just tooling so not only are nations comfortable opening up their borders again but individuals making the choice to travel are comfortable that they are being protected in a way that's adequate so we will, in fact, not only allow travel again but actually have people who choose to travel again. >> great. thank you. let's take some questions. we are running short of time. mr. stephen narlonger from the "new york times" has a question on syria saying syrians are building of you their presence there, up to 100