US Sec. State nominee prefers ‘unrelenting diplomacy’ over war

WASHINGTON, Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he would prefer achieving President Donald Trump’s foreign policy goals with “unrelenting diplomacy” rather than war.

The CIA director insisted that he had “never advocated for regime change” in North Korea despite making previous comments in July 2017 that the administration should find a way to separate Kim Jong Un from his nuclear stockpile.

However, he said, “There may come the day when we see an arsenal of nuclear weapons capable of striking the United States of America,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing on his nomination.

When asked if there is a circumstance that a ground invasion of North Korea could be necessary, Pompeo responded, “Yes, I can imagine times when America would need to take a response that moved past diplomacy.” On Iran, he said it has paid “too low a price for its dangerous behavior” and supports the administration’s strategy to “counter Iran that will raise that cost.” “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,” said Pompeo. “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 noted that he would work to “fix” the Iranian nuclear agreement but acknowledged, “I have seen no evidence that they are not in compliance.” “If there’s no chance that we can fix it, I will recommend to the president that we work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and to achieve a better deal,” Pompeo said.

The nominee confirmed that he has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Muller who is investigating ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign during the 2016 election.

“I cooperated,” he said.

He answered that he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 election in some form but would not comment on the investigation.

Finally, Pompeo noted that he would fill the “demoralizing” vacancies at the top of the State Department that were left open during the tenure of predecessor Rex TIllerson and asked for the Senate’s help to get such nominees confirmed.

Pompeo, who already has a close relationship with Trump, is focused on proving to the Senate that he would strengthen the reputation of the State Department that was tarnished since the beginning of the Trump administration.

The Senate previously confirmed him CIA Director in a 66 to 32 vote. If the Senate confirms him again he will be US’ top diplomat.

Source: Kuwait News Agency