Never advocated for regime change in Pyongyang: Trump's SoS nominee Pompeo

Mike Pompeo | Photo: Wikipedia

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday assured American lawmakers that if confirmed as the US Secretary of State, he would execute diligent and firm diplomacy.

Headed to be the top American diplomat in the next few week, as his nomination moves through the legislative process, Pompeo told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that couched in all of global challenges are opportunities.

These are opportunities to promote security, stability, and human rights in key regions, he said. "I also believe we have opportunities for increasingly robust and fair trading relationships that benefit the American people," he said.

While India did not figure even once in his 13-page opening testimony during his confirmation hearing, Pompeo identified China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as the major challenges. In all of these cases, he aligned himself with the new tough policies of President Donald Trump.

However, he said war is the last resort.

"Should I be confirmed as Secretary of State, I will execute diligent and firm diplomacy, working alongside the world's finest diplomatic service, to help our President confront the challenges and seize the opportunities of our time," Pompeo said.

Noting that diplomatic efforts are underway to rid the world of a nuclear North Korea, he said there is no higher diplomatic task for the State Department team than solving this decades-in-the-making threat to the US.

"The stakes are high for everyone, but I believe them to be the highest for the North Korean regime. The State Department has successfully rallied the world to cut ties and impose sanctions that have had a profound impact," he said.

"But there is much diplomatic work left to do, including supporting the President's intent to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That meeting will take place against a backdrop of commitment by our President to achieve denuclearization and prevent America from being held at risk by a North Korean arsenal of nuclear weapons," Pompeo said.

"I have read the CIA histories of previous negotiations with the North Koreans, and am confident that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. President Trump isn't one to play games at the negotiating table - and I won't be either," he said.

Russia, he alleged, continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression. "That's now over. The list of this administration's actions to raise the cost for Vladimir Putin is long. We are rebuilding our already strong military and recapitalizing our nuclear deterrent," he said.

The Trump Administration has imposed tough sanctions and expelled more Russian diplomats and intelligence officers from the US than at any time since the Cold War.

Pompeo said the actions of this administration make clear that President Trump's national security strategy, rightfully, has identified Russia as a danger to US.

Iran, he alleged, has been on the march and has paid too low a price for its dangerous behavior.

"Our administration has developed a strategy to counter Iran that will raise that cost. The issues surrounding Iran's proliferation threat are real and we, along with our allies, must deal with the long-term risk that its capability presents," he said.

"But we cannot let the nuclear file prevent us from acting against Iran's cyber efforts or its attempts to provide missiles to the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia and Americans who travel there. Iran's activities in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon threaten the very existence of Israel, and the global reach of Hezbollah threatens us right here in the homeland," he asserted.

Pompeo said even while America has reestablished a position of strength in its diplomatic relationship, China continues its concerted and coordinated effort to compete with the United States in diplomatic, military, and economic terms.

"For years, through IP theft and coercive technology transfer, China has exploited weak US trade policy and leeched wealth and secrets from our economy. Militarily, it continues its provocation in the South and East China Seas, in cyberspace, and even in outer space. This administration is determined to work diplomatically with the Chinese government in an effort to develop a more productive bilateral partnership," he said.

"We have been pleased with China's support of our efforts to apply pressure on the North Korean regime, but it must do more. We have never advocated change in regime in North Korea. The State Department must be at the center of formulating and executing our China policy," he added.

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