Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
August 27, 2017
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, the firing of any ballistic missile is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and we do view it as a provocative act, a provocative act against the United States and our allies. And we continue to want the Kim regime to understand there is a different path that he can choose. The international community has been quite clear with the unanimous 15 to nothing approval of the UN Security Council resolution imposing the most stringent sanctions ever to be imposed on North Korea. There is also a unified international voice echoing our messages that no one wants to see a nuclear Korean Peninsula. So we are all unified in our mission to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We hope for the opportunity to engage with him as to how we might achieve that.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, I don’t know that we’re wrong, Chris. I think it’s going to take some time to tell. This type of a launch again is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, so it is – clearly, they’re still messaging us as well that they are not prepared to completely back away from their position.
Having said that, we’re going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign, as I have described it, working with allies, working with China as well, to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table with a view to begin a dialogue on a different future for the Korean Peninsula and for North Korea.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: I think the President’s been clear, Chris, that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy. We’re shifting from a time-based military strategy that had very clear troop ceiling levels to now, as he indicated, a conditions-based strategy, which means it will be dictated by conditions on the ground informed by battlefield commanders. He has also delegated significant authority to Secretary Mattis to set troop levels but also has been able to delegate further to military commanders in the field decision making to begin to turn the tide against the Taliban. I think we all recognize that for the past couple of years the Taliban has been advancing and Afghan forces have been unable to push them back. So there will be a definite change in military tactics on the ground.
Now, all of this is directed at sending a message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere; we’re going to be here, we’re going to continue to fight for the Afghan Government, support the Afghan Security Forces. And what needs to happen is the Taliban needs to engage with the Afghan Government in a process of reconciliation and developing a way to govern the country in the future.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: The President was clear that he’s not setting any arbitrary timelines, he’s not committing to any deadlines. He did in his speech though, you’ll recall, say that our patience is not unlimited, our time is not unlimited.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Correct. And I think what the President has indicated is we are not going to set arbitrary deadlines; we are going to monitor the conditions on the ground, and our decisions will be formed around the progress on the ground.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, the war against ISIS is quite clear, Chris, and the President’s been clear that we will defeat ISIS. We will eliminate ISIS’ capability to organize, to raise financing, to plan, recruit new recruits to their fight to carry out terrorism acts throughout the world. That fight is progressing quite well. We are well on our way to defeating ISIS and we have now taken their caliphate from them in Iraq. Over 70 percent of the territory has been recovered. None of it has been lost back to those forces. Almost 2 million displaced Iraqi people have now returned to their homes. In the fight in Syria, we’re in the process of liberating Raqqa, which was their self-designated capital. That liberation is going quite well, and it’s our expectation that we will defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and then our effort is global to ensure that ISIS does not re-emerge elsewhere.
Now, all terrorist organizations have somewhat different objectives. So whether it’s ISIS, al-Qaida, the Taliban or others, our objective is deny any terrorist organization any territory with which they can organize, raise financing, recruit new fighters, develop techniques for carrying out terrorist acts and then deploying those. We know that if we deny them the space to do that, we protect the homeland; we also protect Americans and our allies as well.
So in the case of Afghanistan, Afghanistan has a history of being a refuge for some of the most devastating attacks carried out. As we all know, the attack of 9/11 was organized and carried out from Afghanistan. So on Afghanistan, we have to secure Afghanistan in a way that that can never occur again because there is no territory available to organizations to do so.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: . Terrorism, as we’ve said, manifests itself in many types of organizations. The President has charged us to develop policies and tactics both diplomatically and militarily to attack terrorism in its many forms wherever it exists in the world and wherever it might present a threat to the homeland or to Americans anywhere. This means that we have to develop techniques that are global in their nature. All we want is to ensure that terrorists do not have the capability to organize and carry out attacks.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: I don’t see any division, Chris. I think it’s a question of tactics and how you achieve those objectives. I think the President has been clear in his speech in Afghanistan that we are not undertaking nation building. So we will be shifting our diplomatic and aid and development programs as well to coincide with the President’s view that the Afghan Government and the Afghan people must own their form of government and they must come to some reconciliation with all ethnic groups, including the Taliban, as to how they can secure their country as a peaceful country, one that does not support terrorism, does not provide safe haven for terrorists, and does not align itself with any terrorist organizations or countries that do. That’s what winning looks like.