U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
February 14, 2019
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you, Foreign Minister Czaputowicz. (Applause.) Thank you. Good morning. Welcome to everyone. It’s wonderful to see such a big group that the far end strains my old-man’s vision to see you. We’re so pleased to host the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. Thank you for co-hosting. Our two countries now are celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations and our joint efforts reflect the strength of the bonds between our two countries.
My personal affection for Poland has always been great; it became even greater when President Duda spoke of my alma mater at West Point back in 2017. It was there he made one of – frankly, one of the most important statements of our time. He said, “Go Army, beat Navy.” (Laughter.)
Look, we’re delighted to see so many countries here. NATO, the European Union – thank you for joining us as well. It’s a historic gathering of a very diverse set of countries. It’s a broad cross-section of participants that shows the magnitude of the challenges we face, but also the commitment that each of our nations has made to tackling these challenges together. As a testament to our seriousness of purpose, I want to reflect on the historic dinner that took place last night. Arab and Israeli leaders were in the same room, sharing a meal and exchanging views. They all came together for a single reason: to discuss the real threats to our respective peoples emanating from the Middle East. The United States seeks a new era of cooperation between all of our countries on how to confront these issues. It’s why we’ve organized this ministerial.
The composition of that dinner reflects President Trump’s diplomatic commitment to bring nations together in new ways to solve old problems. That’s our mission today, and I hope each of us will take it seriously. Both the United States and Poland understand that every country attending this ministerial will have different perspectives. At times, such views may even conflict with those of the United States. We see this as a value-added proposition. We want to bring together countries with an interest in stability to share their views and break out of traditional thinking.
I’d like to put out some thoughts and guidelines for our engagement. No one country will dominate the discussion today nor will any one issue dominate our talks. Everyone should speak thoughtfully and honestly and each country should respect the voice of all others. Our hope that this engagement – our hope is that this engagement will entail true back-and-forth dialogue, not just a chance to do what I’m doing now: read a prepared statement. Please – I’ll do this too when I complete these remarks – leave your notecards and speeches in your briefcase or your purse. Let’s have a candid conversation.
Look, in terms of the agenda, we’ll lead off with a discussion on Yemen led by Foreign Minister al-Yamani. I will then detail the Trump administration’s next steps on Syria and our continuing efforts to achieve our strategic goals, which haven’t changed. And after that Senior Advisor to the President Mr. Kushner will discuss the administration’s efforts to advance a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. There’ll be lots of opportunity for questions, comments on all of these topics. And then at lunch Vice President Pence and the prime minister will offer remarks, as will seven other foreign ministers. And a little later we’ll hear from my co-host as he leads a working lunch with a group of nations on addressing humanitarian and refugee challenges, which are all too real. Then we’ll have a series of action planning sessions on curbing missile development and proliferation, combating cyber and emerging threats, and countering terrorism and illicit finance. Representatives from an array of countries will contribute their thoughts as panelists in each one of those sessions.
Our talks are important today, but this conference won’t be the end. It can’t be. We need action. Syria, Yemen, proliferation, the peace process, terrorism, Iran, cybersecurity, the humanitarian crises – none of the region’s challenges will solve themselves. We must work together for security. No country can afford to remain on the sidelines, so allow today to be the start of our conversation.
As I said in Cairo a few weeks ago, the United States will continue to lead on Middle East security issues. We will continue to be a force for good in the region, and today is proof of that commitment. We hope new partnerships emerge from today’s talks. We need to be bound – we need not be bound by the past when a bright future demands new cooperation. Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister.