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Secretary Pompeo Roundtable Interview With Journalists from East Asian and Pacific Media Outlets
March 30, 2020

U.S. Department of StateINTERVIEW

MS WALSH:  Thank you, sir.  Our next question will go to Haye-ah Lee from Yonhap.

QUESTION:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.  Thanks for doing this.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Hello.  Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION:  North Korea issued a statement a few hours ago that said that on the one hand President Trump sent a letter offering assistance with COVID-19, but on the other hand you made reckless remarks about the G7 having to continue to apply pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program.  It said that your remarks have caused it to drop interest in dialogue with further conviction.  So what is your response?  Do you have any specific plans to provide COVID-19 assistance to North Korea?  And do you think the South Korean Government has responded appropriately to the pandemic?  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Did you say the South Korean Government, has the South Korean Government responded appropriately?

QUESTION:  The last part was, yes, the South Korean —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, yeah, the last part, yeah.  Look, the President’s position on North Korea and mine have been in lockstep since the very first day I became Secretary of State.  We’ve done our level best to engage them since the President – since I made my first visit there as Secretary of State to engage them, to conduct dialogue and negotiations to provide the resolution.  When the two leaders met for the first time in Singapore, they both committed to a series of things.  There were four major commitments made, including the denuclearization of North Korea, a broader future for the North Korean people, all of the things that we all remember so well.  We have been trying very diligently from the American side since that very day to move forward on those negotiations.  We hope that we will get an opportunity to do that.

President Trump has also been clear:  Until we get to that point, until we get to the point where we have made sufficient progress along that way, the sanctions – not American sanctions, but UN Security Council resolutions – will continue to be enforced and in place.  And we hope that we will get this opportunity to sit down with the North Korean leadership again and begin to chart a path forward to a brighter future for the North Korean people.  It’s been President Trump’s position since we began our efforts.

And with respect to South Korea and our efforts with respect to the COVID-19, from early on, when it became apparent that the North Koreans were likely to have a challenge, we have offered assistance.  We’ve done that through the World Food Bank, we’ve done it directly, and we have assisted other countries and made clear that we would do all that we could to make sure that their humanitarian assistance could get into that country as well.

And the answer about how South Koreans have responded to the COVID virus I’ll leave to others, other than to say that they have had a pretty effective effort.  And it appears from all the data that we can see that the South Koreans have managed to come across the peak inside of South Korea, and for that they should be applauded. [Full Text]