U.S. Department Of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
May 9, 2018
On Plane ert Yokota Air Base, Japan
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we had a good day in the sense that I had a good and lengthy conversation with Chairman Kim in preparation for the President’s summit. The – we are locked in on the date. We are locked in on the time. We – we’re not quite ready to announce either of those just yet, but in relatively short order – we hope in the next handful of days – we’ll be able to announce the location and the date and time. But now that part is behind us for sure, and we had a chance to talk substantively about what we intend to be on the agenda, and also how we’re going to begin to coordinate in the days ahead between now and the summit in a way that we – both sides are confident that we will set the conditions for a successful meeting between the two leaders.
We have the three Americans on the plane, which is incredibly exciting. They seem to be in good health. The doctors are with them now, but all indications are at this point that their health is as good as could be given that they’ve been held. They all walked up the stairs themselves, with their own power, so good enough to do that. And we’ll have a – hopefully in the next couple of hours a more complete readout of their complete conditions.
QUESTION: Will they still be – will they stay or go back to Washington with you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So they’re going to – they’re going to fly back with us. There’s another plane that will meet us there in Japan and they will – there’ll be even more robust medical capabilities on that airplane in the event that they should need it. It doesn’t look like they will, but we’re prepared to do that. So they might stay on this plane and we might shift them to another plane, but in either event they’re coming back to Washington with us.
QUESTION: Were there any glitches or anything along the way that made you seriously think this might fall apart?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It was a long day. It was a long day. But there were no moments where I felt like we were going to be anything but successful in the day. So no, no glitches, but we were on the – what, 13 hours maybe on the ground, something like that from start to finish? So a long day. A long day for the – for our counterparts, the North Korean team, as well. But worth the time and effort, and I think very productive.
QUESTION: When you said that the – that you’re locked in on the date and you’re locked in on the time, (inaudible).
SECRETARY POMPEO: The location as well. I’m sorry, we – the venue is also locked in. So yes, so date, time/venue all locked in.
QUESTION: What about how long it will last? That was something you said but I’m unclear.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So yes, so we’re planning on it will be a single day, but in the event that there is more to discuss, there’ll be an opportunity for it to extend into the second day as well.
QUESTION: And this is pretty much paved – does this prisoner release pave the way for that? Would you have gone ahead with that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Would you have gone ahead with the summit if they were still holding these three men?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know the answer to that. It would have been more difficult, and it certainly would have been a more difficult situation with which we were presented. I’m glad that we don’t have to confront that.
QUESTION: Same day, there’s an announcement about Iran. There are five or six Americans who are imprisoned there.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.
QUESTION: People might say you’re leaving some Americans behind while you’re picking others.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we’re doing our best to get them all back. There are Americans being held in several places, right. There are Americans detained in Syria as well. I – when I was the CIA director, I could see the State Department and all of the United States Government was focused on getting every one of those Americans returned wherever they were.
QUESTION: Can you say what you think in terms – pushed Kim towards making this decision on the Americans?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t know. I think – I think that Chairman Kim is trying to set good conditions for the summit, right. I think we’re – I think we are having good conversations, productive conversations. And so I think the work that President Trump has done to put us in this place made this possible.
QUESTION: And you don’t want to tell us what the venue for the summit is? You don’t want to tell us what the venue for the summit is?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I can’t.
QUESTION: Do you think that will be a joint announcement?
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s the —
QUESTION: When you say a handful of days —
SECRETARY POMPEO: What’s that?
QUESTION: When you said a handful of days, like, the weekend?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we’re hoping today – what’s today now, Wednesday now? We’re hoping the beginning of next week.
MS NAUERT: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: So just to jump ahead —
STAFF: He’s actually getting an update from her on something —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Okay.
QUESTION: Jumping briefly back to the prisoners, can you tell us what your first words —
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you.
QUESTION: Jumping back to the prisoners, can you tell us what your first words were to them, and not hit your head on the ceiling?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll do my best to do both. I welcomed them back. Although we’re not quite back home yet, I welcomed them back. They were happy to be with us on this plane, to be sure.
MS NAUERT: Can I tell them what he said? Can I tell them what they said to us?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know if that’s appropriate or not. Probably not.
QUESTION: What they said to you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I —
QUESTION: Well, we’d love to know. (Inaudible) never been to the (inaudible).
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I’ll see if – I just want to respect their privacy. I’m happy to talk about things I said, but —
QUESTION: Okay. If they want to come back and talk to us, we’d be happy to.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll bet – probably for another day.
QUESTION: And was there a moment when you gave yourself a little pat on the back or —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Still have work to do. I’m thrilled that we have them back. I’m happy that actually President Trump set the conditions for this to happen, and I’m thrilled with that. But there’s still a lot of work to do to achieve our ultimate goal.
The only other thing I should mention is I did speak with the President. I informed the President of this, and the President is planning to come out and meet the aircraft when we land.
QUESTION: In Andrews?
SECRETARY POMPEO: At Andrews. So somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00, and I don’t know, whenever —
QUESTION: Well, that’s a big —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Whenever we get there, he is planning to come out.
QUESTION: That’s not been announced by the White House?
MS NAUERT: Sorry?
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Has it been announced? I haven’t seen that.
MS NAUERT: Well, not the Andrews part. Well, not the Andrews part.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know if they’ve announced it. They may have. He’s pretty quick on the communications. I —
QUESTION: Have we crossed over into – we crossed over into airspace out of —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you know what time we crossed over?
MS NAUERT: I’ll get that time for you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
SECRETARY POMPEO: All right.
MS NAUERT: Thanks, guys.
QUESTION: Real quickly, did they mark that moment? Did you come back and say, “That’s it, guys, we’re out of North Korean airspace”? Did you mark it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We were all thrilled when we knew we were outside of that space. Yes, ma’am.
All right. Thank you all.