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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo at a Press Availability with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo at a Press Availability with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod

July 23, 2020

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Welcome, Secretary Pompeo, Mike.  Let me start by welcoming you to Denmark.  High-level visits these days are rare due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and your decision to prioritize to come to official visit here to Denmark underscores the strong bonds we have between our two countries, between the United States and Denmark.  It’s highly appreciated, as you know, Mike.

Denmark and the United States are the closest allies in NATO, but we are also close more broadly speaking.  We insist on being rule-makers, not rule-takers in the world of today.  Today, we have covered areas where we fully agree.  We also discussed issues where we come from different perspectives.  This is exactly the kind of constructive, frank dialogue only closest allies can have.  The U.S. and Denmark are bearers of the same principal values: democracy, freedom, human rights.  They are the bedrock of our open and free societies.

On the Arctic, let me start by underlying that I invited my close colleagues from Greenland and Faroe Islands to the first meeting with Secretary Pompeo.  We only discussed the Arctic together and coordinated with Greenland and Faroes.  That goes for all aspects of the Arctic, including security policy.

At today’s second meeting, Secretary Pompeo and I covered all other bilateral topics of interest.  As two of only five Arctic coastal states, the Arctic is a key interest to the Kingdom of Denmark and to the United States.  Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate and coordinate closely in the Arctic in full respect of the unique constitutional construction of the kingdom.  I’m glad to see the U.S. commitments to increased economic engagement being implemented with the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Nuuk and also project funds.

We are keenly aware of the increased global attention and military presence in the Arctic by Russia.  We will continue to maintain and build situational awareness in the Arctic.  We will ensure that we have the proper capabilities in the region, and we want to maintain close cooperation based on Arctic Council and the Ilulissat Declaration.

Working together, the Kingdom of Denmark and U.S. will continue to be a force for international law, a voice for cooperation, and a driver of economic development in the region.  And our talks also highlighted Danish commitments to ensure sustainable development with a special focus on our shared global challenge, climate change.

Our partnership, of course, goes further than the Arctic and the High North.  In our following meeting, we covered the full range of U.S.-Danish bilateral issues.  The U.S. is one of Denmark’s biggest trading partners.  We aim to expand cooperation even further based on free and fair trade.  Denmark and the U.S. have a lot to offer each other.  Denmark knows that the things we hold dearest, our values and principles, our way of life, our safety and security, cannot be taken for granted.  That is why Denmark will continue to be a high-activity and high-impact NATO ally.  With troops on the ground, planes in the air, and ships at sea, we will continue to be a force for stability worldwide.

This also shows our common fight against terrorism.  Islamic State, al-Qaida, others still lurk, plot, and plan.  Denmark and the U.S. remain fully committed to destroy ISIS.  And Denmark looks forward to taking over leadership of the NATO mission in Iraq later this year.

We also discussed China and Hong Kong.  The EU has characterized China as a necessary negotiating partner on issues such as climate, but also an economic competitor and a systemic rival.  Following last week’s Foreign Affairs Council, an EU (inaudible) paper regarding Hong Kong is now being drafted, a decision Denmark fully supports.  Both EU-27 and I have publicly and repeatedly stated our deep concern.  It is clear that Europe needs a common, coordinated, and a strong position on China.

Denmark and U.S. are natural and longtime allies, friends, and partners.  The world stands at a decision point.  We choose to be rule-makers, not rule-takers.  Open and free societies must stand up for our shared values, reject authoritarianism wherever it surfaces defend our democracies from hybrid threats, from terrorism.

So, Mr. Secretary, Mike, thank you once again for your visit.  Please take the floor, and afterwards, I believe we will have time for a couple of questions.

Mike, please.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Thank you, Foreign Minister Kofod.  I want to thank you and your team for putting this together.  It is always a lot of work to – when a foreign minister comes to visit.  In these challenging times, it’s even more difficult.  You all did a fantastic job, and I appreciate all the work that you and your team did.

Denmark is indeed such a strong and noble partner of the United States.  My conversations today with you and with Prime Minister Frederiksen reaffirmed that truth.  I want to congratulate her.  This is her one-week anniversary, and so it was very kind of her on day seven of her marriage to spend a little bit of time with me, very generous.  Congratulations to her and her family.

Look, these two nations are both robust democracies.  We each understand that there’s a cost connected to the freedom that we so love, and that we have an obligation to, together, vigorously defend it.  For years, Denmark has made mighty contributions and real sacrifices in support of NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in the fight to beat and defeat ISIS.  You all take the commitment to transatlantic security intensely seriously, and we are deeply appreciative of that.

Look, we also had a good discussion about the challenges posed to us by authoritarian regimes.  I talked about the Chinese Communist Party’s threat to freedom everywhere, to the people of Denmark included.  We trust that Denmark will protect itself from this challenge.  I am heartened to see that Denmark and the Danish people join the American people in supporting the Hong Kong people in the face of Beijing’s repression.

We also appreciate Denmark’s firm steps to diversify the sources and means by which it meets its energy needs, another important aspect of national security.

The foreign minister spoke to this a bit.  Denmark’s democratic cooperation on Arctic issues is laudable.  Last year at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, I asked free nations to work with the United States to enshrine shared values like freedom, transparency, sovereignty, and sustainability in the Arctic region.  This mission is all the more urgent as we face new competition in the region from countries that don’t always play by those rules, if at all.

Now we know.  Nowhere do we have a nation that will help us like Denmark.  Nowhere have we better upheld our shared values than with the Kingdom of Denmark and the great work we’ve been able to do on Greenland.  Quite simply, it’s a new day for the United States and Greenland.  Reopening the U.S. consulate in Nuuk reinvigorates an American presence that was dormant for far too long.  And the United States has also signed new memorandums of understanding to cooperate with our partners in the Kingdom of Denmark that cover a wide range of areas, like growing Greenland’s mining and energy sectors through transparent investment, helping manage land and fisheries, increasing tourism, and much, much more.  And we’ll keep working to ensure that our Greenlandic neighbors benefit fully from the presence of Thule Air Force Base, an issue that matters an awful lot to all of us.

So, too, was our cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark evident in the meeting today – three foreign ministers and me, it was three on one, Minister Lynge of Greenland and Minister av Rana of Faroe Islands.  We had a great, lively conversation on an important set of issues that matter to each of us.

I’m pleased to announce today that the United States and the Faroe Islands have agreed to start a formal dialogue to talk about key issues like healthy fisheries and enhanced commercial engagement.

I’ve talked a lot about democracy just now because before this visit, I learned of the largest American Independence Day gathering in the world outside of the United States.  It happens right here in Rebild National Park in Denmark every year, maybe except this year.  The size of that gathering – thousands annually – says something.  Whether it’s Americans living abroad or Danes getting in on the fun, our two countries love freedom.  And while we rightly celebrate those bonds, we’ll work closely together, and, Lord willing, our two countries will always strive to uphold them.  Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Thank you, Mike.  And now I open for a couple of questions.  First Yespa, please.  Yes.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  First you, Mr. Secretary.


QUESTION:  In your campaign to round up support among allies against China, you could have chosen to go to any of the 27 EU member-states.  And with all due respect, why on Earth did you go to Denmark, of all places?  What do you want to achieve here?

And to you, Foreign Minister:  It’s no secret that the majority of Danes and your own government don’t agree with the Trump administration on several issues.  Where are you able to find common ground with your American counterpart?

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Well, thank you, and Mike, would you start?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sure.  I came here because this country’s been a great partner of the United States.  My mission was much broader than you described.  It wasn’t simply to talk about the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to all freedom-loving nations.  We certainly spend time discussing that, about how we can protect our nations from investments that are aimed to undermine our national security, how we can work together against cyber threats that are presented by the Chinese Communist Party – all the elements that present risk.  Even in the Arctic, China has fancied themselves as a near-Arctic nation.  We have a responsibility to get that right for each of our own sovereign security issues, but, more broadly, for our collective security across the Atlantic as well.

But we talked about – I came here because there were a whole handful of issues, more broadly than that, that we wanted to speak to.  The foreign minister mentioned the fact that you’re all taking over the NATO mission in Iraq.  It is important and powerful and a true symbol of the greatness and the commitment to countering terrorism that Denmark has always had since the United States has been at this in Afghanistan.  Twenty years you all have been there right alongside of us, and so I wanted to express my appreciation for that.

We had many issues, certainly commercial issues.  We want to get travel open between our two countries as well.  We need to get businesses back so that we can grow our economies again.  So there was a wide range of issues which brought me here today, and we had a great set of meetings.  I’m happy I chose this and you brought wonderful weather as well, so all good.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Well, thank you.  As I mentioned, we discussed a wide range of issues, also where we do not see – while we have different perspective, of course, and that’s how we do it with two allies, close allies.  We do it in a frank and open way between us.  One example could be the differences on climate change.  We prefer that U.S. remain in the Paris Agreement.  U.S. has a different approach, but that’s the things we also can discuss.  But listen, on the fundamentals – on the fundamentals, Denmark and U.S. is closely allies.  We want a world where we see freedom, democracy, security; where we see people can prosper and live out their dreams.  We want a peaceful world, and that’s what we are fighting for together.  And also in our strong alliance in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, the U.S. and Denmark, Kingdom of Denmark, we want that to happen.

We want to explore our potential, huge potential through working together, also on commercial ties for Denmark.  U.S. is one of the most important markets we have.  But it goes far beyond that.  It’s families, it’s friends, it’s travels, it’s integrated our societies.  It’s actually a funny story, Mr. Secretary, is that you – we had diplomatic ties since 1801, Denmark and U.S.  And you are – we are the only country where you have unbroken diplomatic ties since 1801, so we have a long, historic, deep cooperation that we also today had the chance to confirm, and I’m very happy that the Secretary have chosen to come to Copenhagen.

Yes, we will have one more question from –

MS ORTAGUS:  Yeah, Nick Kalman, Fox News.


QUESTION:  Sir, I have to ask:  Was the offer buy Greenland discussed in talks today?  A year ago, your prime minister dismissed the idea as an absurd discussion.  Is that still the position and is there any reason to believe your government will ever change its mind?

And Secretary Pompeo, on the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, your department says the movement was made to protect American intellectual property and information, but the U.S. has long complained about Chinese theft of American IP.  So what specifically was different here?  What was going on?  What were they doing that triggered the closure and are they doing this at any other consulates in the United States?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Well, thank you for that question.  Listen, that discussion was dealt with last year.  It was not on the table in our discussion.  On the opposite, we had a good and fruitful meeting as also Secretary Pompeo alluded to.  My colleague from Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and me and – the four of us, how we can strengthen our cooperation on a whole range of areas – commercial ties, for example, but also more widely speaking, broadly speaking.  We are, as I said, each other’s closest allies when it comes to security in the Arctic, North Atlantic.  We are true partners and we will continue to be that, but we also have unexplored potential to grow trade, tourism, education cooperation and other type of cooperation between us, North America and Greenland, Faroe Islands, and that was we discussed about.  So no discussion of course on the issue from last year.


SECRETARY POMPEO:  I don’t have much to add other than the statement that the State Department put out with respect to the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.  Your point in your question was that there’s been this long challenge of the Chinese Communist Party stealing intellectual property.  We actually talked about this.  It’s not just American intellectual property been stolen, it’s been European intellectual property too, causing hundreds – costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, good jobs for hard-working people all across Europe and America stolen by the Chinese Communist Party.  You saw yesterday an indictment that the Department of Justice put out related to a set of activities that were taking place not only in the United States but across other countries as well.  And your point that this has been going on for a long time makes our point.  President Trump has said, “Enough.”  We’re not going to allow this to continue to happen where they – you’ve seen the remarks that National Security Advisor O’Brien gave, that FBI Director Wray gave, and that Attorney General Barr has given.  We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave, and when they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs.  That’s the actions that you’re seeing taken by President Trump.  We’ll continue to engage in those.

QUESTION:  Is there nefarious behavior at other consulates?

FOREIGN MINISTER KOFOD:  Thank you.  I want to thank you again, Mike, and I want to thank all of you for coming today.  Listen, we are in a world where values, freedom, democracy, rule of law, security are under pressure.  And it’s very important when we are in this world that we stand together, allies, United States and Denmark, Kingdom of Denmark.  That was what we have shown today.  So, Mike, again, I wish you safe travel.  Thank you for coming to Denmark.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Thank you.