Secretary Michael R. Pompeo at the IISS Manama Dialogue
(STL.News) SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you so much. Thanks, John, and thanks for that introduction and the thoughtful words at the beginning of your remarks. And I do remember our dinner back when my life was a little less busy, and sadly, the set of issues that we were discussing that night – the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program – still remains in front of us.
I want to say greetings to His Majesty King Hamad, the Government of Bahrain, the IISS Manama Dialogue participants, esteemed ministers, and everybody joining all around the world both online and in person. Thanks for giving me this opportunity
It is truly an honor to open the 16th Manama Dialogue – my first time speaking to this distinguished audience.
This forum’s ongoing success speaks enormous volumes about your institute’s reach and the powerful role that Bahrain plays in advancing peace and prosperity around the world. And I’ll come back to that topic.
Look, just this week, our two countries launched an important and comprehensive Strategic Dialogue. I was happy to chair that.
Today, John asked me to talk about a number of things, including the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy more broadly, our achievements with our partners in the Middle East, which I believe are truly historic, and a few lessons learned perhaps as well.
And after that, we’ll have a good conversation, a robust Q&A.
I want to spend my opening moments by briefly laying out some bedrock principles that have guided the work of our administration.
I delivered a speech last year titled “A Foreign Policy From the Founding.” And that has a particular meaning in the United States, but it ought to have meaning to all of us today. I explained how this administration has anchored our efforts in the tradition of America, our first principles.
It was James Madison who wrote in Federalist 41 that “[security] is an avowed and essential object of [our] Union,” of the American Union. Our founders understood that our government’s primary duty is to put America’s security first. We believe that’s true for every sovereign nation.
They also favored – our founders – a prudent and restrained foreign policy. They knew that in spite of the fact that our country was powerful, our resources weren’t infinite. But even when our nation was young, they also knew the true value of American leadership abroad and what we could accomplish for our people and for the world. And the Trump administration has tried to get that balance just right.
Look, our signature successes in the Middle East demonstrate what happens when we get it right.
Four years ago almost exactly, this administration saw that the true cause of conflict in the Middle East wasn’t the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but ISIS and the leadership in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.
We started our approach to the Middle East by leading the fight against ISIS. We had 82 partners, eliminating the caliphate in relatively short order.
This was a remarkable multilateral victory. It deserves more attention, in my judgment. We did this well, we did this right, and the world remains safer today as a result of that enormously good collective effort.
On Iran, we simply saw the regime for what it is: an anti-Western, anti-Semitic government that terrorizes its neighbors and its own people – period, full stop.
We learned the lessons from the prior administration’s appeasement. Sending pallets of cash didn’t change Iran’s behavior; rather, it funded and supercharged their terror campaigns.
We understood that a democratic Israel should be a partner, not a problem, for countries in the region.
And so we flipped the switch. We took a different approach. We rejected appeasement and put security and deterrence, not dialogue for dialogue’s sake, at the very front – a very realistic approach.
So what have we achieved at this point?
We got out of the JCPOA, which traded cash and immunity for Tehran’s malign behavior in exchange for unverifiable nuclear pledges that put us all at risk.
And with the help of our Gulf allies, our maximum pressure campaign isolated Iran diplomatically, militarily, and economically.
We’ve now leveled 77 rounds of sanctions targeting close to 1,500 individuals and entities. We have deprived the regime, according to their own words, of some $70 billion for terror.
Proxies like Hizballah and Hamas are now in deep austerity mode.
We’re standing with Iraqi prime minister, my friend Khadimi, in his push against the Iranian-backed militias, and with the people of Lebanon as they reject Hizballah’s corrupt rule.
In fact, we have seen multiple countries designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization and refuse landing rights to Mahan Air – Iran’s terror airline.
Look, we also took the regime’s chief terrorist, Qasem Soleimani, off the battlefield. It showed what a real red line looks like.
And we know too, we know our campaign is working because now the Iranians are desperately signaling their willingness to return to the negotiating table to get sanctions relief.
This effort in the Middle East isn’t just about countering Iran – as vital as that is.
American strength and resolve have given the leaders in the region the space and, importantly, the confidence to pursue peace and prosperity.
The signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in September wouldn’t have been possible without the maximum pressure campaign and our active diplomacy with strong partners in the region.
We’re not done. We continue to build on that progress. Goods and people are now crisscrossing the region along entirely new routes.
It was an honor to be in Israel and greet my friend, Bahraini foreign minister, a few weeks ago. He and I together convened the first trilateral meeting of our governments, and I am confident that more countries will make the right decisions. They’ll do so because it’s the right decision for their people.
They (inaudible) follow the UAE and Bahrain and Sudan’s courageous examples in turning the “Three Nos” of the Khartoum Declaration in 1973 into the “Three Yeses” of the Abraham Accords. They will do so because it’s right for their people.
Four years ago, John, a lot of influential people in the world would have said that even hoping for these achievements was pure fantasy. But we’ve shown that the real fantasy was the bankrupt conventional wisdom that said there couldn’t be progress until the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was solved. We could see it was nonsense, and we acted on the fact that we knew that reality would bring peace and prosperity. Our new approach continues to bring the possibility of a better future for all of the peoples in the Middle East, including the Palestinians.
And indeed, that’s the bar against which all future actions should be measured, not the failures of outdated policies – you talked about this, not the failures of outdated policies based on flawed assumptions, but based on the reality of our times.
This is the same fact, the same truth, of our policy towards the Chinese Communist Party. And while I won’t go into detail here, I hope to in – we have time together to talk. But for decades, the world had hoped that economic integration would lead to political liberalization – the China fantasy.
It didn’t happen. The Chinese Communist Party never wanted to behave like a normal regime, because at its core it’s not one. Like Iran, the party is a revolutionary relic. That’s why they work together so much.
So, again, we stepped back. We looked at reality. We remembered first principles and reorganized our policy around a security framework and simple common sense. The good news is we’re rallying other nations to our side, because this isn’t about America vs. China. It’s about freedom vs. tyranny. We all have a stake – including where you sit, in the Middle East. This is important to get right.
I want to close with one final thought on the Middle East that shows the good that happens when we get this balanced perfectly. As you said, I returned home from a trip to Israel and the Gulf just a couple weeks ago now. I was optimistic because of what we have managed to accomplish together. I was encouraged by the level of renewed hope I witnessed – especially among the younger generation. That’s as it should be, given the success of the Abraham Accords.
But there was another noteworthy agreement: an MOU that we signed with Bahrain in October. We agreed to combat “all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.”
This was the first time, the first time our Arab partners formally joined in this effort. It’s one way that the Abraham Accords are more than just a peace on paper or between palaces, but among people, people of the Book who share warmth and respect. The descendants of Ishmael are standing with the descendants of Isaac.
As an American, I am proud of that accomplishment. My country was founded on religious freedom and respect for unalienable rights, and those are ideals that we all should uphold. And we know this: When America stands confidently for our founding values – certain that they are exceptional, good, and true – our friends benefit enormously as well.
So let’s keep at it. Let’s not return to the fantasies, the fictions that emboldened our enemies, weakened our friends, and undermined our collective security. Let’s keep pressing Iran, standing with our allies, and building on our gains.
The last 48 months have proven that a foreign policy grounded on reality and our proudest traditions actually works for the benefit of all of us.
Thanks for having me.
May God bless you. And I look forward to our conversation. (Applause.)
MR CHIPMAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much, indeed. And I hope you can hear a round of applause in the room. We look forward to the conversation just now.
One little housekeeping point for the many people we have here gathered in Bahrain in this room and the neighboring room. If you want to seek the floor, and I hope a number will, just press your microphone. Your microphone will turn green. That doesn’t mean it’s on. It just means that you’re on my list. And I’ll call on you, and then your microphone will turn red, and then you’ll be able to speak and pose your question. And I’ve got three or four people already, but let me please perhaps take the clichéd privilege of the chair and ask Secretary Pompeo the first question.
You spoke a great deal about the challenges posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. And last year, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, we produced a major 180-page dossier that analyzed all of the various groups with which Iran engages in the Middle East – dozens and dozens of different groups that are part of Iran’s influence networks.
And our judgment at the time, and the conclusion of the report, is that the Islamic Republic of Iran considers their influence networks in the Middle East as their most important strategic asset, possibly even more important than their nuclear program or their ballistic missile program. And the reason they consider their influence networks as their most important strategic asset is that it is those networks day in, week out, month by month, that actually change the effective balance of power in the Middle East.
And the implicit conclusion of that is that if it is their most prized strategic asset, it won’t be a strategic asset that will be easily negotiated away or easily sanctioned away. Might have to be fought. So if you agree with that analysis, what is the strategy to deal with Iran’s influence networks in the Middle East?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I think their security framework, the leadership’s security framework, actually depends on all three of the things you described – their capacity to continue the capabilities, their nuclear capabilities; their capacity to project those weapon systems and threaten the Middle East with short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles and to continue to refine that program; and then you described it, their capacity to have influence operations, including not only militarily – that is, their military proxy forces – but their capacity to have influence through other means as well, political means as well.
So yes, we have to attack all three of those. This was one of the central shortcomings of the JCPOA. It got some verification. It got them to stop turning some centrifuges for a little while, but it underwrote this network of activity that you described, the very influence and proxies that you described.
The regime’s behavior must change. In May of 2018, I laid out 12 simple points, and I’ve seen in the international world I’ve been ridiculed just a bit for that and just a touch here at home too. I challenge anyone in the audience today to go back and read those 12 points and tell me which one of those you would find satisfactory if Norway or Sweden engaged in that behavior. All we’re asking is for the regime in Iran to behave like a normal nation, and that includes, John, to your point – it includes ceasing this malign activity that takes place through their external influence operations as well.
I couldn’t tell you if they’ll cede that voluntarily. We’ve seen in life before that things that one thought couldn’t be negotiated can when the stakes are right and the costs are sufficient. But in the event that they choose not to do that, in the event that they come to the table and are only willing to talk about turning off a few centrifuges for a few months or a few years, the world should find that unsatisfactory. The Middle East countries I assure you will find that unsatisfactory, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s Israel, or whether the Gulf states. I would tell you that the good people of Syria who are now living in Turkey or in Lebanon who were forced to flee because the previous administration’s policies appeased the Syrian regime could tell you that appeasement of Iran will fail the people of their country as well.
We have an obligation, a collective obligation to ensure that we get this right. We ought not cut short a negotiation. We ought not reduce the driver that creates the need for the Iranians to negotiate and be satisfied with the simple idea that we’ll get some verification and the capacity for us to stare at some centrifuges and verify every day that they’re turned off for just a little while. Look, we’ve seen what happens. The moment they want to turn them back on, they can do it. Doesn’t take very long to spin up a centrifuge, and we see that. Today they’re at 3.67. They passed a law in the last 48 hours saying they were going to go to 20 percent enrichment.
This tells you that the failure of that agreement was centrally understood by the fact that they can continue to enrich inside of the country, and as long as they have that capacity, they hold the world hostage. We can’t permit that to happen. Our administration was clear about this. I hope the entire world will remain clear about the need to truly push back against the broad threat that the regime in Iran poses today, not only from its nuclear program and missile program, but as you spoke about, the other tools that they use to influence and to undermine other nations.
MR CHIPMAN: Superb. So we now have, as you can imagine, lots of questions from the floor and also coming in internationally. What I propose, Mr. Secretary, is I take three questions here very crisply and then you can answer those as a group. Could I first ask Giselle Khoury? Your microphone is on.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Good evening, Mr. Pompeo. I want to ask you about your outgoing administration is – why your administration does keep achieving the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar?
MR CHIPMAN: Good, thank you very much for that. There’s a lot of questions actually coming in internationally on the Saudi-Qatar relationship, so that’s one to park and to come back to. And now I’d like to call on General Amos Yadlin from Israel, who’s with us here in Bahrain, partly as a consequence of the new diplomatic relations. Amos, your microphone is on.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your speech, and even thank you more for the foreign policy you have led that brought finally a peace to the Middle East after 25 years that we didn’t pay attention to the fact that peace is not here. And this is a different peace, a warm peace.
I want to ask about the maximum pressure. How you assess your achievement in the maximum pressure? Since unfortunately we see the Iranians closer to the threshold with more enriched uranium and more centrifuges, and just today they announced that they will have another two centrifuges in the tunnel under the mountain in Fordow. What can you do in the 50 days that left to your administration and what is your recommendation for the next administration? Thank you.
MR CHIPMAN: Thank you, and also here in Bahrain, John Raine.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your comments. I noted the connection that you made between your foreign security policy and the Founding. There’s another founding with which, of course, the U.S. is intimately connected, which is the founding of the post-World-War-II international order. You gave a very good example of successful collective action in the coalition which the U.S. led against Daesh. I just wanted to ask you, as you look to leaving office, what would you advise constitutes the elements of good collective security and multilateralism, with particular reference to this region?
MR CHIPMAN: And the fourth question, before we go back to the Secretary, I’ll read out because it’s from the editor of The National in the UAE, Mina al-Oraibi: “Mr. Secretary, does the drawdown of troops and diplomats in Baghdad not undercut the Iraqi Government and Mr. Khadhimi, who need U.S. support at this time? Won’t Iran be emboldened by this U.S. decision?”
So those are four questions for you, Mr. Secretary. Over to you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll try to do them, and at least two or three of them are actually connected, so great that they were presented in a group.
First, look, we are very hopeful that the dispute between the Saudis and the Qataris can be resolved. We hope so because we think that’s important for peace throughout the Middle East, but most importantly we think it’s the right thing for the people of each of those countries. We’re going to keep working to do our – what we can to facilitate conversations and dialogue where we can help. We’re anxious to be helpful.
I get asked all the time, “Well, when do you think this will end,” or “When do you think the next country will sign the Abraham Accords?” Goodness gracious, I am out of the prediction business in terms of timing. Yeah. It will – it’ll be resolved when the parties conclude that it’s in their best interest to do so, that it makes sense for their people. This is the central idea.
And you talked about going back to founding principles. Every country has its own founding traditions. John, you spoke to this as well. Each country has a history and a tradition and a culture which drives not only its domestic politics, but its place in the world as well, and how they interact with other nations. In this case, these two countries often have different histories, different reflections on the actual history, and the view from the United States is that this conflict is – it’s time to be resolved, that the region will be better off, more prosperous, and more peaceful when it is in fact resolved. And so my team, our team at the White House, Mr. Kushner, all of us have been engaged in trying to find a good, solid path forward for them which they can both be happy with, and which won’t be just a piece of paper or ephemeral or temporary, but in fact will be built on a foundation that is lasting.
Amos, you asked about the maximum pressure campaign and what we might do in the next 50 days. Look, I know everyone’s staring at January 20th. We’re just continuing to do the good work. We started as quickly as we could when we built it. I remember when I was the CIA director, when we first started our understanding of the Middle East, I remember reading from around the world that American sanctions alone wouldn’t deliver. And so we worked to try and build out coalitions that would join with us. In some cases, we were successful; in other cases, much less so. But the sanctions themselves have been incredibly effective. When I say effective, we can see that the regime in Iran is having to make difficult choices, difficult choices about whether to invest in their space program or underwrite militias that are in the southern part of Iraq. They’re having to make decisions about whether to work on a new technology, that it might have a dual use; in fact, it might have a valid civil use, but also might be connected to a nuclear weapons program, or potentially the technology used in a nuclear weapons program, or to underwrite the efforts to destabilize the government in Lebanon and prevent it from being reformed in a way that could deliver good outcomes for the Lebanese people.
So in that sense, it has worked tremendously. It has now put the Iranian leadership in a very difficult place where they’ve got to make these hard choices, and they are looking to see if they can’t convince the world that, “No, the Trump administration had this wrong, you should fund us, you should underwrite us, you should appease us, you should let us have money, you should let European companies come back into our country so that we can build out on all of these terror programs and these malign activities around the world.” I think it’s fundamentally the wrong direction.
You asked my wisdom for the next administration. They’re plenty smart enough; they’ll figure their way through this. What I would say is to the world, that can’t be the right direction. It cannot be that the right direction is to allow Iran to continue to buy and sell weapons again. It can’t be the case that the right direction is to allow Iran to have access to Western technology and Western capital again. Those are the things we have seen that destabilize the Middle East, that make it riskier for people, whether they’re in Egypt or Kuwait or in Bahrain – it makes them less able to live their lives in ways that aren’t under threat from this theocratic terrorist regime. That would – down that path lies what we have all seen: a real risk to the stability of the region.
The third question was an interesting one about – referenced our founding and the founding of the international order and the history of multilateralism. I recall giving a speech in Brussels early on in my time as Secretary of State. I believe I walked off stage without so much as two people clapping. It was because I went there that day to talk about our view of how multilateralism can work and when it ultimately fails the very mission that it is set out to do. And so we talked about how America was going to think about it.
There have been multilateral institutions which we have supported, expanded, made better. I would argue NATO is in a much better place today than it was four years ago. We had a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting this past week. I listened. I listened to a talk about the threats of the day, from space, from cyber, from China, the threats that continue from Russia. These were conversations that weren’t being had, and there are resources available for NATO today that wouldn’t have been had without the hard work that America did to convince every nation that it was in its own collective best interest to be part of that important, critical, transatlantic, multilateral institution.
There have been others that we just simply concluded wouldn’t work. I’ll give you a couple of examples. The World Health Organization – the World Health Organization miserably failed each and every one of the countries that you all represent and allowed the Chinese Communist Party to obfuscate what took place. It allowed it to cover up; it didn’t ring the bell. Its systems failed to prevent a virus from traveling from Wuhan around the world that has now undermined every economy and killed tens of thousands of people. This is tragic. This is a failure of a multilateral institution. There are three significant reforms that have taken place over the last dozens of years. They all failed. And so we concluded we were going to find another place, another way that the international community could come together to do pandemic prevention. This has to work. We want to be part of that. The United States wants to be part of that. But the World Health Organization became a political tool instead of a science-based effort to actually deliver security and safety from these pandemics across the world.
It’s how we think about it. Does it get real results? Does it deliver good outcomes? Is the organization fit for purpose? If it is, we’ll reinforce, we’ll invest our resources, and we will be a strong partner for every member of the multilateral institution. If it doesn’t, we should either fix it or forget it, and that’s how we have thought about this.
On final question, I’ll be brief about this. We’re trying to get our force posture right and our diplomatic posture right in Iraq and in Baghdad. We have been committed there for a long time. President Trump made two purposes very clear, two missions very clear. One is to continue the campaign to make sure that ISIS doesn’t raise its ugly head again, and second, to work to make sure that the leadership in Iraq was on the right mission, was focused on its independence and sovereignty and the freedom to be out from under the jackboot of the Iranian regime. I think the things that we have done there to date have made that more likely, more probable. We’ve welcomed all the efforts that the Gulf states have made to help Prime Minister Khadhimi be successful, and the United States is committed to trying to do that.
But Iraq’s leadership has a responsibility to my team, to our diplomatic team, and to those of you who have embassies in the Green Zone as well, to do the hard work to make sure that those diplomatic posts are safe and secure. And when they can do that, we’re happy to be present and to work. When they can’t, we’re going to do the right thing for our own security posture, all the while making sure that we are fully committed to the sovereignty and independence of Iraq.
MR CHIPMAN: That’s superb. With your permission, we’ll take three or four, a second round, and I’ll ask everybody to be crisper.
From Germany, Bastian Giegerich.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary, for your remarks. You spoke about China and the actions that countries in this region and in other regions should take to put up defenses against that expanding influence, which the director of national intelligence just – U.S. director of national intelligence just characterized as being ultimately about dominating the planet economically, militarily, and technologically. A lot of countries, when they take action, take up action to protect themselves – investment screening, supply chain diversification, those kinds of things. What would you advise countries in this region and elsewhere to do beyond those protective measures to put a counterpoint to that development that the U.S. has described? Thank you.
MR CHIPMAN: And from Korea, also here in Bahrain, Chung Min Lee.
QUESTION: Thank you, John. Mr. Secretary, thank you for your speech. My question is: President Trump emphasized that he wanted to end America’s long wars in Afghanistan, and I guess to a more limited degree in Syria. As you think about the most important military achievements of the Trump administration, how confident are you, Mr. Secretary, that the U.S. will continue to become the indispensable military power in the region and to project power – military power – effectively? Thank you.
MR CHIPMAN: And we have a young leadership program here, as I mentioned, and we’re delighted to have from Morocco Imru Al Qays Talha Jebril. Your microphone is on.
QUESTION: Hello. Thank you, Mr. Secretary of State. I would like to ask you a very brief and direct question: What is the current administration’s U.S. stance on Morocco’s recent skirmishes or clearing of the way of the Polisario protests in the Western Sahara region? And secondly, what is, in your personal capacity, your opinion in dealing with this issue? What diplomatic efforts would it take from the U.S. and other actors to actually deal with this issue and remove the security threat this issue has been creating for the long term? Thank you very much.
MR CHIPMAN: And finally, also on Afghanistan – and we take note that Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Mohib will address the dialogue this weekend – your colleague Zalmay Khalilzad – this is a question asked by Antoine Leveque based in London – Zalmay welcomed two days ago a three-page agreement codifying rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire. How does this development newly help overcome structural challenges to the road to peace?
So that’s your gang of four questions to conclude, Mr. Secretary. Over to you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: All right. Let me – I’m going to take these in reverse order because my memory is short. Look, the agreement that was reached a couple days back setting the roadmap for the discussions was a preliminary agreement for sure, but an important one, a hurdle that had to be crossed in the same way that we had to cross a hurdle back in February when we got the parties together for the first time. It was a truly historic moment where the Afghans came together and agreed that they would sit across the table from each other and begin to resolve what is, depending on your start point, 20 or 40 years of conflict.
I think those of us who have been at this for a while recognize that these things take time to resolve. There’s a deep-seated history. There’s lots of challenges, different views, not just two – we talk about the Afghan Government or the Taliban – this is a diverse society, and we’re working to bring every element of that society to the table so that all of those voices are heard. To get this right, to get this process right enabled us to move on to the substantive conversation. We know that that substantive conversation will take some time.
We also know that today that the violence that’s taking place in Afghanistan is unacceptably high, and we need to begin to have this conversation against a backdrop of much lower violence levels. I am optimistic. I was in Doha, goodness, now two weeks ago or three weeks ago, met with the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban negotiating team. In each case, they demonstrated a willingness, they had lots of different views, making clear that this was going to be something that would have to be a hard-fought negotiation. But to a person, I made clear to them that the violence levels can’t continue while these negotiations go on. It won’t work. And so we’ve asked all of them to stand back and indeed stand down. In that respect, I hope we can begin to start to address some of the front-end issues about a ceasefire here before too long.
The next to last question was about Morocco. Well look, we’ve put a statement about Morocco – our policy hasn’t frankly changed very much from where we were six months or even 24 months ago. We hope that the Moroccans can find a way through this. We, just like in most conflicts in the world – our view is that it ought not be resolved through military means but through a set of conversations that can deliver good outcomes.
The third – the second question was about power projection and about our military power projection in particular. Yes, President Trump’s made very clear he wants fewer American young men and women in harm’s way. That’s good if you’re a secretary of state, because it says that he’s counting on you to figure out how to resolve these problems. We know that we can do this when we have a strong military. We’ve built it up. We spent $750 billion a year to build out the world’s finest military with the most capable set of structures to deliver good outcomes for when we need to do that.
But President Trump’s made clear he wants us to have to do that less often, and so the burden falls to those of us in the diplomatic world to go deliver that. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have – we have our – our Fifth Fleet’s there in Bahrain, we’ve got forces throughout many places in the Middle East. I think those things are enduring and important. We’ve got forces in Saudi Arabia. We’ve got lots of activities all throughout not just the Middle East, but in the Indian Ocean and – these are important places, important places for America to be so that our deterrence posture can do what President Trump described, which is to put fewer of our young men and women in actual harm’s way.
And then the first question, and where I’ll wrap up, is this idea of what should Middle Eastern countries do about China. I don’t think it’s any different for countries in the Middle East than it is for any of the rest of us. Every country has deep commercial ties inside of China, and that has blinded us, including the United States for decades, to the malign activity of the Chinese Communist Party. This is not accidental. This is deeply intentional on the part of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership. But as the DNI said yesterday, his basis for believing China’s desire for hegemony is that this is what the Chinese Communist Party says, it’s what they tell us.
So every country needs to be mindful of that. So we can’t have Chinese equipment in our telecommunications infrastructure. We can’t have the Chinese showing up with a commercial veneer for PLA – as PLA cover entities. We have to take those risks seriously and that may well mean that China will threaten certain commercial activities in your country. Walk through the fire, get it right, keep your people safe, do not let the Chinese Communist Party come to treat your country as a vassal state.
MR CHIPMAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for these opening remarks. Thank you even more for the conversation in which you’ve so vigorously engaged. And thank you even more for getting our 16th Manama Dialogue on to such a great start. Many thanks.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir. You all have – hope you have a great rest of your conference.
MR CHIPMAN: Thank you. (Applause.)