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Athens - 5 October 2019
1. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State:
"This is what's wrong. When the world doesn't focus on the things that are right, the things that matter. The things that impact real people's lives. And instead, you get caught up in some silly gotcha game. You see that's not healthy that doesn't help democracies flourish. It doesn't help grow economies. What it does is it destroys people's belief that the people who have this charge right, as a reporter as a journalist, the people who have this charge aren't really focused on the things that matter to people. Look I was, on the phone call. I'm on almost every phone call with the president with every world leader. The president has every right to have these set of conversations. I know precisely what the United States Department says they did. Sitting in front of you is the previous ambassador to Ukraine. We know exactly what we were doing there. We were trying to create a situation where there wouldn't be a corrupt government. Right? We want to make sure that they didn't interfere in our election in 2016. We wanted to make sure that if we underwrote Javelin missile systems - something that the previous administration refused to do - we wanted to make sure that we were doing this with a government that was straight up and would use that money for the things that it said it would use that money for. Those are the kinds of things that we do when we're trying to deliver on behalf of the American people appropriately."
(Reporter) "And can you assure your allies, Greece, other countries in the Balkans, the US allies that they will not be subject to political pressure based on their willingness or unwillingness to help the interest for US president?"
(Mike Pompeo) "What's the what's the question? To do what. No, no. You're gonna be under enormous political pressure let me assure you. Right? This is what we do. We work together in a political environment to achieve what the Greek people want. Right? And America tries to advance its interests around the world. And I am confident that I feel pressure when I talk to your foreign minister who pressures me all the time. It's totally appropriate. Right?" Isn't that right? Yeah. It's totally right. I could go ahead and say it. You could admit it it's OK. It's completely right. I guess. It's ok. It's ok. (Applause) I understand. No, it's OK, it's fine. Look nations do this, nations work together and they say 'boy, goodness gracious, if you can help me with X we'll help you achieve Y. This is what partnerships do. It's 'win-win'."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday dismissed questions about US President Donald Trump's attempts to push Ukraine and China to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden as a "silly gotcha game."
He insisted the administration's foreign efforts were reasonable, responsible and necessary to target graft, ensure aid is spent properly and protect American democracy.
He complained that the focus from the media and commentators on Trump and Ukraine was "wrong" because it doesn't "impact real people's lives."
"Instead they get caught up in some silly gotcha game," he told an audience in Athens in response to a question from a Greek reporter after he delivered a speech on US-Greece relations.
He said the actions of the State Department were aimed solely at improving relations with the new government of Ukraine.
"We know exactly what we were doing there. We were trying to create a situation where there wouldn't be a corrupt government," Pompeo told reporters.
Earlier in the week, Pompeo had acknowledged for the first time that he had been on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.
"I'm on almost every phone call with the president with every world leader. The president has every right to have these set of conversations," Pompeo said on Saturday.