Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered remarks and answered questions from reporters on a wide-range of topics including Mexican President Andres Lopez Obredor’s meeting with President Donald Trump and travel between the United States and other countries in the Western hemisphere facing significant outbreaks of COVID-19. The transcript below was edited to only include issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. Hope everybody had a great 4th of July celebrating the founding of this great country, and a week from today I’ll be in Philadelphia talking about the work of the Unalienable Rights Commission. I’m looking forward to that.
A belated happy birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 85th birthday on Monday of this week.
And a big welcome to Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador, who is in Washington today to celebrate the landmark USMCA trade deal coming into force alongside President Trump. I spoke with the foreign minister yesterday. I’m looking forward to seeing him here in just a little bit as well. I think we’ll have a great set of meetings over at the White House later on today….
QUESTION: Sir, about Brazil. Do you think President Jair Bolsonaro should change his approach to the virus now that he has tested positive? And also, when will U.S. allow people who are traveling from Brazil to enter the country? Is there a number of cases or deaths that Brazil needs to reach in order to that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So President Bolsonaro’s perfectly capable of making his own decision about how to proceed with the health situation in his own country. I spoke with the Foreign Minister Araujo yesterday about that and many other things with respect to our relationship. They are a great partner and friend of ours.
As for when we can get travel back open between our two countries, the relationship with Brazil’s no different than any other country. We are putting in place a set of metrics that will determine when it’s appropriate and safe for the American people to allow travel to come from other countries. We’ll evaluate each country separately and make informed decisions based on science and reason, not politics. We’re going to get this right. We’re going to make sure that we do everything we can to get our economy back open just as quickly as we can. We have a big team here at State. We have a big team at Department of Transportation and DHS, the Vice President’s task force all looking at this challenge. We want to get international travel back up and going just as quickly as we can. That includes with our great friends in South America, including Brazil….
QUESTION: Thank you. Now, on the visit of the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Mexican delegation has been clear that they want to (inaudible) coronavirus, but I’d like to know if you will put on the table issues like the human rights or human trafficking, your concerns on freedom of the press, for example. And if I may, I’d like to know the status of the Merida Initiative and the need to upgrade or review the cooperation on antinarcotics or security, especially after the attack to a Mexican official in Mexico City.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So it’s the President’s meeting. He’ll put on the table precisely what he chooses to, and I’m sure President Obrador will do that as well, but I’m confident the meeting will talk about the full range of issues that we work on with the Mexican Government, certainly the economic issues. We want to talk about our border, how we make sure that we keep that border, that commercial traffic up and successful, very important to American supply chains, Canadian supply chains that you can see come into full force under the USMCA. We’ve got to make sure we get that right, and so I know they’ll talk about that.
I’m confident that the full range of issues – I’m sure we’ll talk about issues that aren’t – that expand beyond bilateral as well, things in the hemisphere, right: what’s taking place in Venezuela today, challenges that we find to narcotics trafficking on – in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, places where Mexico can help. So I’m confident that the full range of issues you asked – you mentioned several others. I’m very confident that the discussion will be complete and comprehensive. I expect we’ll have a good set of meetings with him today in the afternoon and then again this evening at the working dinner as well.