U.S. Department Of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2019
Kuwait City, Kuwait
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister. It’s great to be with you today. I’m truly honored to be here in Kuwait on my first trip as Secretary of State. President Trump was proud to host High Highness the Amir in September of last year, and the President sends his greetings.
I want to repeat what I said a bit earlier too. In November, my country lost a true champion of Kuwait’s liberation, President George H.W. Bush. President Bush’s leadership in defense of your country reflected America’s long-term legacy as a force for good in this region. We were deeply touched by the outpouring of tributes that came from so many Kuwaiti leaders and citizens. Thank you for your sympathies on America’s loss.
We used today’s Strategic Dialogue, the third of its kind, to make further progress on a range of issues from defense to counterterrorisms and security; to enhancement of trade and investment between our two countries; to education, culture, and science; and to the protection of our citizens and our borders. Our defense relationship is particular – of particular importance as Kuwait hosts thousands of U.S. troops and is a powerful partner in combating ISIS, al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups.
And we substantially intensifying our collaboration to prevent cyber threats – threats not only to our security, but to the prosperity of our people as well. In the face of these dangers and others, the United States remains committed to Kuwait’s security too. At the same time, I want to praise Kuwait for taking significant initiative on its own to solve some of the region’s most challenging issues, including those in Yemen, in Syria, in Iran, and in Iraq. We coordinate closely with Kuwait as co-members of the UN Security Council on a range of issues all across the spectrum for international peace and security.
The United States greatly appreciates His Highness the Amir’s leadership on humanitarian issues in the region, particularly in Syria and in Yemen. Kuwait is showing the kind of leadership President Trump asked of our partners in the region. And as I made clear earlier this year in Cairo and then again in Warsaw, the United States will be an unwavering friend to any nation who has resolved to meet regional challenges head-on. The United States appreciates the extraordinary efforts of His Highness the Amir to facilitate a resolution of the Gulf dispute, and on a separate note, as part of our commitment to help build partnerships in the region, we’re encouraging the Government of Iraq to continue to enhance its relationships with Kuwait.
We also used our Strategic Dialogue to work to increase trade and investment. We signed an agreement today that will promote entrepreneurship in small and medium enterprises here in Kuwait. This compact will send a positive signal to potential investors in Kuwait and enhance your country’s private sector development as well.
And finally, we had the chance to have a discussion on the long history of cooperation between the United States and Kuwait in the field of education. We announced Department of State programs that will strengthen teaching of English in Kuwait and increase people-to-people exchanges between our two countries. The very impressive group of former students that I met earlier today attests to the value of these programs.
I want to close by saying thank you again to my Kuwaiti counterparts for their hospitality and their continued commitment to our deep-rooted relationship. Together we’re making this region and the world more secure and delivering tangible benefits to the people of Kuwait and to the United States. Thank you. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Hello. Thank you, Mr. Minister, for welcoming us. I’m Edward Wong from The New York Times. I have one question for each of the leaders here.
Mr. Minister, I know that one of the big issues between the United States and the Gulf states is the United States’s desire to have the Gulf states be supportive of the upcoming peace plan that they will unveil in Israel. So I’d like to ask: What is your take on the status of Jerusalem right now and on the United States position on that? And what would you like to see in the upcoming peace plan on Israel?
And Mr. Secretary, I’d like to ask: What is the United States policy and position on the West Bank and the Golan Heights? Is – are these territories occupied by Israel or are they not occupied by Israel? Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Sure, I’ll go first. To answer your question, there’s been no change in U.S. policy with respect to the question that you asked.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good morning. (Inaudible)* Kuwaiti Magazine. After signing the agreements, I would like to ask a question to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: Every year, several reports are elaborated by the Secretary of State in the United States, and several reports criticize Kuwait. How these – how are these reports elaborated?
I am going to ask this question to both ministers: You were in Qatar lately. What can you tell us about solving the Gulf crisis? Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Let me – may I proceed? So let me try and answer the second question first, and then I’ll come back to the first one.
So we spoke a great deal today about the rift between the Gulf countries. We are all working to find a solution. It’s not in the best interests of the region, it’s not in the best interests of the world. We need the Gulf countries all working together on the complex set of challenges that face each of them.
As I think I’ve said repeatedly, the United States is a force for good in the region. We are working to help those countries find a set of common ground. We all have the same set of threats: the threats from al-Qaida and from ISIS, the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And we all are working diligently to find a path forward so that the rift between those countries can be resolved.
You asked a question about the reports. I’m not sure precisely which reports you’re referring to. If it’s the Human Rights Report that was issued this past week or the week before, each year the State Department prepares a report. It is designed to be a factual report that identifies places where we have concerns about human rights. We do that broadly. We do that for our friends, for our adversaries. It is an attempt for us to document those things that we observe where we hope countries can continue to do better. We – I know we had comments about many countries in this region. In each case, we work alongside, especially countries like Kuwait, to help find paths forward that reduce that risk.