Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press

DECEMBER 11, 2019

QUESTION:  Yeah, thanks.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  On Iraq, activists in Iraq have been targeted, assassinated, and kidnapped by militia under the eyes of the security forces.  How do you view these actions?  And on Lebanon, the international support group for Lebanon is meeting today in France.  Is the international community ready to provide financial aids to Lebanon at this time?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So your second question, with respect to financial assistance, I know there are meetings taking place.  We're working on it.  We know that the financial situation there is very serious, that the central bank is under real pressure, and that the Lebanese people are challenged.  They don't have access to their accounts in a way that is full and sufficient and adequate.  We need to continue to work on that.  But the responsibility lies with the Lebanese people.  The responsibility for how the Government of Lebanon will be formed and shaped falls to the Lebanese people to demand Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanese prosperity, Lebanese freedom from influence, from outside entities.

We have a designated terrorist organization there, Hizballah, and the – I know that the people of Lebanon understand the risk that that presents to their freedom, their capacity to deliver for themselves.  This is not an American proposition; it is the – a proposition of the Lebanese people.  And we do stand ready to do the things that the world can do to assist the Lebanese people of getting their economy righted, getting their government righted.  And we're very hopeful that the Lebanese people will be successful in that.

As for Iraq, we've watched the protests there.  We've watched Iraqi Shias take action in Karbala and Najaf.  They too – much like we just talked about in Lebanon, the Iraqi people want a sovereign, independent Iraq.  That's what the United States has supported for an awfully long time now, at great risk and cost to the United States of America.  We're continuing our counterterrorism campaign in Iraq, and stand ready as the Iraqi Government asks us to, to support the Iraqi people in ensuring that the influence from those who don't want a sovereign, free, and independent Iraq don't have their way inside of that country.