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In Tribute to Human Freedom – United States Department of State

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, good morning, everyone.  Thank you all for being here.  It’s always great to be where everything’s bigger here in Texas.  I – my team, as I was flying out this morning, reminded me that it is not its own country, so this is a domestic trip.  I know you all may think differently; I get it.

Thank you to Jim for that very generous introduction; I appreciate it.

It’s wonderful to be here at the Baker Institute.  You were so kind – when I was nominated to be Secretary of State, I was CIA director, I – one of the very first phone calls I made was to Secretary Baker and said, “Hey, would you come?”  He flew out and spent a handful of hours with me out at – out in Langley, and it has certainly – that time has certainly been much to my benefit as I’m a better Secretary of State because of the wisdom that you imparted to me that day.  You asked me, too, you said, “Here’s the deal.  You’ve got to come to the Baker Institute,” and I’m now upholding my end of the quid pro quo.  (Laughter.)

You’ve got to have fun along the way.

Look, the State Department’s had a 25-year – 26-year partnership with your Center for Energy Studies, and many other fruitful ties, and we thank you for that.

I want to thank you personally for that invitation to be here today.

There are lots of great stories about Secretary Baker, and great stories about you too, Susan.  A lovely couple that served America so graciously for so many, so many years.  (Applause.)

And Jim may have – you may have had more than one motto, but one of them was that “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.”  I left out an adjective for the public audience here, but I think that’s certainly true.

Stories too about your Texas flair, like your propensity to put Tabasco on tuna salad, a staple now at the State Department.

And stories too about the amazing relationship you had with George H.W. Bush, President Bush, a man who had great influence on me as well, having served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  You were very respectful of President Bush, but he wasn’t afraid on occasion to make his case very clearly to someone who was your close friend.  And you told me the story that day, you reminded me that every now and again he would say Jim, if you’re so damn smart, why are you not the president?  (Laughter.)

More seriously, I was thinking about your time at the State Department last week.  I was in Germany on the occasion of commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Although Secretary Baker himself would give all the credit to his boss, President Bush, no one should ever underestimate Secretary Baker’s individual contribution to taking down that wall.  He helped lay the foundation for an international coalition to drive Saddam from Kuwait.

And you have been a tough act to follow at Foggy Bottom.

These are immense achievements for America’s national security, for those of us who remember the history when we – when we had peoples who languished under the Soviets and Saddam.  These were achievements for mankind more broadly as well.

As you wrote in your memoirs, I think a bit too modestly, you said we diplomats should only take a little bit of credit for these titanic shifts, because “the true responsibility for changes in the world we inhabit lies in the ordinary men and women who sought freedom, who struggled against darkness and totalitarianism, and who rose up to [achieve] liberty for themselves.”

I saw that last week.  I was reminded, that’s the subject of my remarks today.  It is – I want to talk about the natural hunger for human freedom, and why we should never underestimate its great and awesome power, and our responsibility to assist those people around the world who are seeking that human freedom.

I talked about my trip last week.  I witnessed this power myself.  In the late 1980s, I was a young lieutenant serving in a tank unit in southern Germany.

We patrolled the then-East German border and a little bit of the then-Czechoslovakian border.  There, I saw people try to cross to come – try to come across, come across to freedom from the East German side.  We visited last week a little town called Modlareuth.  It was a small town that was completely bisected by a wall and by barbed wire, to the West German side, families separated by this fence in the same town, buildings literally inches from each other on opposite sides of authoritarianism and freedom.

And like so many thousands of brave East Germans, they – these people in Modlareuth valued their freedom so much they were willing to risk dying for it.

I was powerfully reminded of their courage as I, for the first time, walked across what had then been that border last week.  A section of the wall still stands there.  The barbed wire remains.  There’s a guard tower that’s been preserved.  The townspeople of the now-united Modlareuth never want to forget the horrors of communism and what it wrought for their families, and we should never forget that either, and we should never forget the good works, the force for good that America was in that important achievement.

And we should appreciate what freedom has achieved, at the same time remembering the past.  We take for granted – my son now is 29 years old, so just after this monumental achievement.  Sometimes I think people take for granted what happened, but those who lived it and worked it know the German reunification wasn’t always easy.

Life in Modlareuth today is undoubtedly better than it was behind the Iron Curtain.

The work that we did, we saw it again when we traveled to Leipzig.  We visited a site, a place called St. Nicholas Church, the site of the very first protest against the former, so-called German “Democratic” Republic – something that Secretary Baker did on the 25th anniversary of the fall of that wall.  East Germans began to gather in that church in the 1980s.  They went there on Monday nights to pray for peace.

I had a chance to meet some of the former protestors who had participated in the Peaceful Revolution.  They said each time they went they didn’t know what would happen when they stepped out, when they exited that church.  They knew that they were being followed, but they watched, they watched the protests swell and swell.  There was one gentleman who remarked to me that when the crowd numbered around what he estimated would have been 70,000 people, he thought, what will the Stasi do?  Can it be the case that they will shoot all of us?  And he, saying that he did not know, said, “I went to the streets.”  He was young.  He would have been in his early twenties at the time.

They all found safety in those numbers, strength in their faith, and safe haven in that church.

And the story, the story of the church in Leipzig speaks to larger truths, I think, for each and every one of us, and for our responsibility in the world: the longing for freedom accrues and is common to all of humanity.

No person desires subjugation at the hands of another.  We are all indeed formed in God’s image.

And we’ve all been endowed by Him with the right to live freely, with the unalienable rights that our Founders knew so well: the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I think people know these universal truths exist, deep down, deep down in their souls.  I think it’s by the very nature of our humanity.  I felt it when I served in West Germany and looked across the barriers to East Germany.

Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, there were periodic eruptions – we would see them.  Those eruptions were always in the support of liberty, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Poland, and in many places where individual acts of bravery, frankly, never received any public attention.

I fast-forward to my time now as Secretary; we see the same fight for freedom today.  We see it in the people in the Islamic Republic of Iran, we see it in people in Venezuela, and we see it in the people of Hong Kong.  And we should never devalue their deep desire for their personal freedom and for their personal liberty.

It’s a noble goal.

And it’s no coincidence that the most successful societies in the world are indeed free societies, because they’re the only place – and I think we all know this – they’re the only place that men and women can reach their true potential.

We’ve seen it.  We’ve seen this same story play out time and time again.

Look at how the lives of the people in places like Poland or the Baltics changed for the better after the remarkable work that took place during the Cold War.

Look at the prosperity of Pacific pillars like Taiwan or of South Korea.  Look at the wonderful experiment that we have here in the United States of America.  It’s rambunctious, and it’s free.

And freedom’s benefits are vast, and history proves it.  And America’s role in enhancing freedom around the world is central to the world’s understanding of how it is we can achieve that.

We should never take – the march towards freedom, is – by fate.  It’s by hard work.  I remember, I left Germany in October of 1989.  I was heading back for my next assignment in the 4th Infantry Division in Colorado.  So a handful of weeks.  And I remember, I called back – weren’t cell phones at the time, but I called back to my old unit, to a friend named Jeff Bubar, who was my fellow lieutenant, and said, “Jeff, what the heck?”  And he said, “Mike, we were patrolling the space, we were blocking people from coming across these roads, and the folks on the other side were blocking them too.”  We spent our entire time as young officers there.  And he said, “Mike, there’s traffic going in only one direction.”

Only one direction.  The wall came down, and everybody moved towards freedom.

But of course, we had to work for it.  It took decades of effort across multiple administrations.  And with the help of allies and the people of East Germany, we rid the world of the Soviet scourge.  It took patient diplomacy of men like Secretary Baker.  And victory was not a foregone conclusion.  You can go back and read the quotes days, weeks, and months before the wall fell, and there were critics that said, “Your policy is failing, it’s not working, this is going to last forever.”  No one knew the day that it would come.

Look at places today.  Look south to Venezuela, to Nicaragua, to Cuba.  There are many examples, sadly.  What day their freedom will come, we do not know, but we know that if we work and collect friends and build out a mission set and support those seeking freedom, that that moment will come.

There are certainly limits.  Secretary Baker referred to this, too.  We have enormous power, but it is certainly limited.  There are limits to the assistance that we can provide – our pocketbooks and resources aren’t unlimited.

But we should every moment look for places, places where we stand with those that are seeking freedom.

The good news is we have lots of advantages.  Our democracies make us very, very resilient.  Our free and competitive markets help us all prosper.  Our rule of law anchors our gains and allows us to peacefully resolve disputes.

And our free and democratic values allow us to realize human flourishing that no other nation can compete with.

I literally – I would put America’s exceptional track record up against anyone, anywhere, any time.

But we shouldn’t take it for granted.  As Secretary Baker so eloquently observed, we should never underestimate “the ordinary men and women,” and their desire to be free.  Ever.

On this trip I had a chance to meet a handful more of these folks.  I went when I was – in Berlin, I had a chance to stop in a Stasi Museum in former – what was former East Berlin.

Several former prisoners were there to serve as guides, to tell us the stories, the history of what had taken place in that particular space.

It was unmitigated evil.  Prisoners never knew what was coming.  Indeed, the guards used to wear slippers so they couldn’t – prisoners could not hear them coming down the hall.  And yet, the human spirit survived.

One of those who survived, a man, told me that he was placed in total isolation, but that a few times a week the guards would let him outside – not completely, but in a cage.

And they were told to look down, but he would glance up.  And when he would glance up from time to time, he would hear some noise and he would be told, “Look down, look down.”  But he saw and knew that there was a particular Pan Am flight that came by.  He said it was his dream to get on one of those planes one day.

What remarkable courage, and we should all be proud of what those seeking freedom did, and what the world did, and what America did to allow him to have that opportunity.

Never underestimate the courage of that man or those who seek freedom.

And never stop working for their triumph, wherever – and wherever we can.

America is a force for good.  We are imperfect; we get it wrong from time to time.  But wherever we go, I have leaders from all across the world who want to see the American Secretary of State.  Not Mike, but the American Secretary of State.  Because they know – they know that we will be a force for good in their country, in their region, in their part of the world, and that we will act for freedom and for what is good for the world.

I hope God blesses this institute with its continued success and may God bless our great country as well, and I look forward to taking a handful of questions about almost anything.  (Laughter.)  (Applause.)

Ambassador, good to see you.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Well done.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I used to say anything, but I’ve learned as I’ve gone on.  Now it’s almost anything.  (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  All-righty.  Well, Mr. Secretary, first I’d like to thank you for being here.  I’m sitting in for Ambassador Djerejian, who was not able to be with us here today, and would like to add my own welcome on behalf of Secretary and Mrs. Baker and the Baker Institute, and to say what an honor it is to have you here with us today.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  We have some questions for you, some prepared, some were submitted by our audience.  But before we get to those, I’d like to ask you an easy one to get us started, and that is:  As a boy growing up in southern California, then graduating top of your class at West Point, did you ever think you’d end up here and how does it feel?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  (Laughter.)  Oh, goodness no.  I was going to be in the NBA, right?  (Laughter.)  I was convinced of it.  I was a talented power forward for my high school.

No, you don’t dream, you don’t plan.  You – I get asked by young people, “How do you – how did you get where you are?”  The answer is the good lord and a little bit of hard work, right?  And that’s what you do.  You try every day to advance the things you’re working on.  You try to do it with incredible integrity.  You stay close to your faith and work hard.  And then I’ve been blessed to have a lot of opportunities that America has provided to me.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Well, thank you for that.  So here’s our next question.  You mentioned this in your remarks:  Last week in Berlin, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, you said that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, must change or risk becoming ineffective or obsolete if it cannot adapt to the challenges and issues of the 21st century.  President Macron of France was quoted as lamenting the brain-death of NATO.  Chancellor Merkel of Germany responded that, “The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views, and that is not how I see the state of cooperation in NATO.”

You yourself, Mr. Secretary, have acknowledged that the 29-member NATO alliance is one of the most important in all of recorded history.  You’ve also said 70 years on, NATO needs to grow and change, it needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges of today.

Question:  “In this light, please tell us:  Where is NATO today?  What is the U.S. role in NATO today?  What are the challenges and opportunities ahead for the United States in NATO and for the alliance itself?”

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  Look, I think you captured – or as you recounted my description, you captured the two most important things.  First, NATO is central to American national security.  The transatlantic alliance has delivered important security outcomes for the United States for an awfully long time.  I expect that it will continue to do so.

But every institution needs to be constantly reviewed to make sure that it is fit for purpose for the times.  This was created at a very different time.  The threats and challenges were very different.  When NATO was created, no one was contemplating that NATO’s two primary missions would both be the counterterrorism mission.  There’s a big NATO force in Afghanistan today, and there’s a significant NATO presence working against another counterterrorism issue.  It was designed to be the counterbalance to the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union.  And so it has changed.

Today, the threats have evolved as well, and so we need to make sure that it evolves in a way that addresses the challenges of the moment while maintaining the central characteristics.  It will continue to thrive because you have inside of NATO a set of nations who share a common understanding about big things, the big value sets, about what it is the mission that we’re all engaged in, which expands, goes beyond, being temporal or any challenge of the moment.

One of the things NATO is looking at today is:  How does NATO deal with China?  You don’t think about it as an organization designed to do that, but the cyber threat isn’t geographically limited.  NATO is confronted by Chinese efforts to undermine its security, its communications security.  And so we’re mindful that the organization has to evolve.

As for what President Macron said, there’s a long history of contentious, rambunctious actors, including France, with NATO, and so we ought not think the moment is new or fresh.  As Secretary Baker was reminding me when he was speaking with President Mitterrand, there is a long history.  The nations that comprise NATO have different interests, right, at different times.  We saw what Turkey did these past weeks, right – a NATO ally.

It is not the case that there will ever be perfect alignment inside of NATO.  We shouldn’t wish it away.  We should confront it, address it, and make sure that the alliance is executing a mission with every country participating at the level that will permit NATO to continue to be successful, that everyone has sufficient skin in the game.  And if we do that, this will be an alliance that will be a force for good for America, for European countries, and for the world for an awful long time.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Thank you.  Very well said.  In recent weeks, you have also spoken about how the United States has a long, cherished tradition of friendship with the Chinese people, and that’s still so today.  While there are opportunities in the relationship, to be sure, you have also spoken about how the Trump administration and the United States are taking on the challenges from the People’s Republic of China in a way that the time is calling for.

Could you please speak to what those challenges are and how we in the U.S. and our allies across the world who share our values should and must confront these multifaceted challenges from the PRC head on?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So it’s a complex challenge with China, a challenge that has similarities to what – to challenges America has faced before from authoritarian regimes, but different in material respects as well.  We’ve never had another nation that had five times as many people as we had and an economy that is the scale of what the Chinese had that is interconnected to our economy as ours is with China today.  It is absolutely the case that we have – the people of China are working to make their lives better, and what we’re confronting today is a challenge from the Chinese Communist Party, which has also changed even in the last handful of years and engaged in activity that is deeply inconsistent with not only what I think is best for the world or what America thinks is the best for the world, but inconsistent with what they have promised.

I could tick through a handful of examples.  One country, two systems in Hong Kong – we hope the Chinese will continue to abide by that commitment.  President Xi made a commitment that he wouldn’t put weapons systems in the South China Sea.  He has done so.

So in the first instance, we need the Chinese Communist Party to behave in a way that is consistent with the commitments that they have made, and then we need to make sure that everyone understands the challenges that China presents.  If we are going to all go out and compete in an open, fair, transparent way, American companies will win a lot, French companies will win, Chinese companies win.  That all seems very reasonable and fair, a rules-based commercial trading system, but that’s not what’s been going on for the last decades.

It has been a – they have been a country that’s stolen our stuff, taken intellectual property, forced companies that invested in China to transfer technology.  They are making loans – I use that word loosely – to countries around the world that are unrepayable and then threatening foreclosure for political gain.  They use their state-owned enterprises in ways that deeply subsidize their businesses that are inconsistent with the way both any other country behaves and the way the World Trade Organization permits.

I could go on, and for an awful long time – and I am happy to take some responsibility for this too – America has not done enough, and President Trump has now said we’re going to do this.  We’re going to be candid and honest and transparent, we’re going to work with China where we can, but we’re going to make sure that America addresses each of those challenges in a way that is appropriate.  We could go on for a long time about the efforts that we have underway to do that.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  In fact, I think you have a series of speeches in the coming weeks and months on exactly that.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s important.  It’s important that we all see this for what it is.  It’s not about scaring anyone.  It’s not about overhyping anything.  It is about articulating a set of facts that I think are important for our understanding as we move forward.  And this will be a – this isn’t six months or a year or five years.  I think everybody needs to have a common database as we begin to think about the appropriate ways not only to respond to those challenges but to try and draw the Chinese Communist Party out in a way that will put them in a place that reflects the rules-based order with national sovereignty being respected in the same way that we ask every nation to do.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Great, thank you.  This next one comes from a student, the president of the Rice Young Democrats, a Maddy Scannell.  And here it is:  “How is the administration’s support for the annexation of Golan – of the Golan Heights compatible with the administration’s condemnation of Russia’s annexation in the Ukraine?”

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, I mean, the fact patterns are manifestly different.  We spoke to that very clearly when the decision was made.  We were simply recognizing that reality on the ground and the history that existed in that particular space.  There are many, many contested pieces of real estate around the world, and each one has its own manifestly different fact pattern.  And what we have tried to do is say, hey, there are these – there is this set of international norms and understandings, there are fact patterns that lay against them, and where those norms line up, we should recognize those.  We think that’s most appropriate that the United States address those in a way that is consistent.

And so those two fact patterns – and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it because it’s complicated, but suffice it to say as we evaluated each of those situations we felt that they were manifestly different as a matter of international law, and we attempted to recognize that distinction.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Okay, thank you.  This one comes from the president of the Rice College Republicans.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Both alive and well on campus.  I like that.  (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Yes.  This comes from an Anthony Saliba:  “If the Chinese Government were to use military force to subdue Hong Kong democracy protestors, would the United States Government take steps to directly intervene?”

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, you never want to – that’s a great question because I don’t have to answer it.  (Laughter.)  Anytime a question starts with “if,” you can feel the free pass coming.  (Laughter.)

It’s the case that not only the United States but the United Kingdom and now several dozen countries in the world have all made clear our expectation of how China will behave with respect to the people of Hong Kong.  That expectation is based on the commitments that the Chinese Government made, the – and so we have said repeatedly to General Secretary Xi, “Honor that commitment.  You promised there would be one country, two systems.”  We’ve encouraged not only Beijing but the protestors to engage in this political discourse for what the people of Hong Kong want in a way that is nonviolent, that can with some hope be resolved in a way that is peaceful with few injuries and less violence.  That is our expectation and we’ve made that clear to everyone operating in that space.

As for what would happen, it’s – I just never foreclose any possibility for how President Trump might think about how we should appropriately respond.  Look, if you read the documentation, right, it’s very clear that this is – again, to the first question about – or the second question about Crimea and the Golan – every – these situations are all highly factually dependent.  You’ve got international law that overlays it.  I’ll just stop there.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Okay, thank you.  Next one:  “While the United States still has thousands of troops stationed in the Middle East, questions surrounding American troop presence in Syria have sparked concern about other nations such as Russia and Iran exerting more and more control there.  How do you see the current state of U.S. force and military posture across the Middle East in light of recent events in Syria?”

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So it’s difficult to answer that at that level because that’s a strategic question laid against a tactical set of facts.  I’ll back up.  The administration – and you can go read our National Security Strategy – how we think about the larger, broader set of issues in the Middle East, what America’s true interests are there.  It always begins with what’s our interest, why is it that America should put any of our young men and women’s lives at risk to achieve some end.

And if you go look at it, it identifies a core set of interests.  One is to ensure to the maximum extent possible that terrorism doesn’t reach our shores from those places.  Second, we have clearly demarcated that we believe the primary driver of instability in the region is the Islamic Republic of Iran.  They’re the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.  They’re on a path which will put them in a place which they’ll be closer to having a capability that puts millions and millions of people at risk.  And so we’ve taken those twin imperatives.  Lay over that the commercial interests that are in the straits – not only the Strait of Hormuz, but the Strait of Bosporus, right – this all comes together.  It’s a large geostrategic picture.

And then if you said, “Well, goodness, what’s going on inside of Syria?”  When we came into office, Russia had been invited into Syria by the previous administration.  It already had a large foothold.  So did the Iranians.  They were working in conjunction with the Assad regime in Damascus, and you had people’s heads being cut off and people put in cages by ISIS fighters all throughout western Iraq and northeastern Syria.

My – indeed, before my very first day – would have been less than 24 hours before – after President Trump was inaugurated, I invited him.  So the President was inaugurated on a Friday; I anticipated I would be confirmed as CIA director on Friday afternoon.  That did not happen.  Thanks, Senator Wyden.  But I invited the President out to Langley on Saturday morning.  So less than 24 hours, he came out to the CIA.  I was still the congressman from Kansas, but I was there with the President that day.  The President said – we were up with the counterterrorism team, and we were talking about this threat, not only from ISIS but from al-Qaida and other radical Islamic terror, and the President said, “Tell me what you need, get what you need.  I want you to take down their leadership and I want you to take back that real estate.”

And it took us a little bit, but we pulled it off.  We took what was a territory that was not only in control of ISIS, I mean, but you have to remember they were governing.  They had schools.  They were taxing people.  This was a government.  ISIS had a piece of real estate.  It was a so-called caliphate, but make no mistake about it:  They were executing all the elements of what you’d see a sovereign government do.  They had weapon systems, all the things you would see from a sovereign government.  It’s no more.  It’s gone.  We did this with lots of allies – European allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces that are certainly Kurdish but also Arabs and other ethnicities.  They fought bravely alongside of us.  We provided the air power which was a significant element of the success that was had in the destruction of the caliphate, and we should all – America should be proud of what we achieved there.

And now the question comes: how to maintain that, how to make sure that we reduce the risk to the United States from radical Islamic terror in northeast Syria and western Iraq.  We’ve got big forces in Iraq.  We still have significant forces in Syria.  We continue to work with the SDF in northeast Syria, and I’m confident that President Trump’s admonition to us on that very first day he was in office remains, which is tell me what you need and we’ll make sure we can do it.  We’re going to keep America safe.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Thank you.  Here’s our last question, and it goes like this:  “While there is great potential for U.S. trade and engagement with Mexico and its people, the country is still struggling with rule of law and violence.  The brutal killing of a family in northern Mexico last week is the latest example.  How would you characterize the U.S.-Mexico relationship today?”

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It was absolutely tragic.  My heart was broken when I saw – when I got the call and got the news and spoke to my counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, the foreign minister of Mexico, who I’ve gotten to know pretty well since the new government came in.

So we have lots of challenges with Mexico, more broadly with Central and South America too, as part of our efforts in the Western Hemisphere.  With Mexico in particular, the story that dominates the headlines, the news is the migration issues that we have with them.  We’ve worked closely; the new Mexican Government has expended enormous resources to assist us in ensuring that we have control of what comes across that border, not only people but goods and nasty stuff too.  But Mexico also struggles with the cartels that dominate so much real estate and have so much influence and power.

Our role there has been to cooperate alongside them.  This will be Mexican law enforcement, Mexican security forces that do the work, but to provide them those things that America can that are appropriate for us to provide alongside them.  And it’s been a fantastic – since President Obrador has come into power, it’s been a fantastic relationship.  Our interests align very closely for the issues between our two countries.  We have a slightly different view of Venezuela than they do, but they’ve been excellent partners in doing the things that we need to do to keep the American people safe.  And I think we’ve been great partners to help them ensure that they can do things that will improve the security for the people of Mexico and, if we get it right, reduce the need or the desire for people who, whether they’re in Guatemala or El Salvador or Honduras or in Mexico proper, to make that dangerous trek up through Mexico to try and make it here to this great nation.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Well, thank you, and I – our time has come to a close.  I want to say what an honor it has been to have you here on behalf of Secretary and Mrs. Baker, the Baker Institute, and to thank you on behalf, I’m sure, of everyone for your serving the country with such great honor and distinction.  And we wish you safe travels and safe always.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Ambassador, thank you.

AMBASSADOR TICHENOR:  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you all.  (Applause.)

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