State Department Press Briefing (Excerpts)

September 20, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

MS NAUERT: Good afternoon, everyone. Hope you’re well today. I’d like to start off with telling you a little bit about who we welcomed here at the State Department today. Today Secretary Pompeo met with the Georgian prime minister and reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Georgia bilateral relationship. Ten years ago, Russia invaded Georgia and continues to occupy the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In spite of Russians’ occupation of 20 percent of its territory, and in spite of deaths, kidnappings, and other abuses that have occurred under Russia’s ongoing occupation, Georgia continues to reform its democratic institutions and develop its economy.


Lastly, I’d like to mention a little bit about the schedule in the coming days, as many of you will be joining us at the United Nations General Assembly. The Secretary arrives in New York on Sunday the 23rd for the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly. The White House will be issuing the President’s schedule. Ambassador Haley, you may have seen a short while ago, just concluded a press conference highlighting some of the events that we can expect at the High-Level Week.

I thought I’d take a few moments to give you a sense of the administration’s priorities for this year’s UNGA, and they fall within five overarching themes. First among the priorities is addressing the global threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. That includes the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, as well as ballistic missiles. The President intends to chair a UN Security Council meeting on that issue, and you can expect considerable discussion of North Korea, Iran, and Syria in this category throughout High-Level Week and beyond.


Regarding Secretary Pompeo’s schedule: On Monday, Secretary Pompeo will join the President’s Global Call to Action on the world drug problem. On Tuesday, Secretary Pompeo will speak out against Iran’s proliferation in an event hosted by the United – United Against Nuclear Iran. On Tuesday, Secretary Pompeo looks forward to hosting the annual Transatlantic Dinner. He’s excited about that. We know many of our European friends are looking forward to joining that as well. On Wednesday, Secretary Pompeo will participate in an African Union meeting regarding the peace process for South Sudan. On Thursday, he’ll join the P5 foreign ministers to address some of the world’s most pressing global issues. Then on Friday, the Secretary will meet with some of our Middle East partners to address shared security goals.

Some of the other senior officials who will be in New York next week include our Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, Under Secretary David Hale, Under Secretary Andrea Thompson, our Director of Policy Planning Kiron Skinner, our Special Representative Steve Biegun, and Special Representative Brian Hook, among many others from the State Department.

The United States seeks a strong, sovereign, and independent partnership with countries that control their own destinies, and the United Nations General Assembly provides an excellent platform to advance our American interests. And I look forward to seeing you all in New York and talking with you nonstop, I am sure.


QUESTION: Have any bilats been set yet?

MS NAUERT: Oh, yes, we do. But as you know, these things are shifting a lot.

QUESTION: Well, that’s fine.

MS NAUERT:So we’re not ready to announce all the specifics just yet, but we will on a daily basis get you all the information that you need so that you can plan your schedules. Okay? And Said, I’ll get back with you on that answer to that question.

QUESTION: And then I had one other logistical question.


QUESTION: And that is the Tuesday thing, the Iran, United Against Nuclear Iran event, that is part – that’s a nongovernmental group that was very opposed to the Iran deal. I’m presuming that that is not – do you know what the venue is for that?

MS NAUERT: I don’t know where that is being held offhand.


QUESTION: Actually I have also a follow-up on the Palestinian, but on – in Iraq there are some reports in the Arab media circulating that actually the State Department has informed the Iraqi Government that it will be held responsible for an attack by Shiite militias in Iraq on any American targets. Can you confirm that?

MS NAUERT: I can’t confirm that. I can tell you that we have said that we will hold the Iranian regime responsible --

QUESTION: That was (inaudible).

MS NAUERT: -- for attacks on our facilities. As the Secretary had talked about last week, we’ve seen Katyusha rockets fired at our facility in Basra, something also happening to our embassy in Baghdad, and as Laurie can probably attest to, weapons being fired at Kurdish facilities in the north.

We recognize that Iran continues to be a destabilizing element in the region. They continue to try to attack other governments and individuals through their proxy militias. We will hold them responsible for any loss of American life. I just want to be clear about that.

QUESTION: Sure, but the difference is already you spoke to that, and there is a congressional bill actually to support that. But I’m talking specifically about if there’s any warning to the Iraqi Government, not to the Iranian – not to the --

MS NAUERT: I’m sorry, if any what?

QUESTION: Any warning to the Iraqi Government that --

MS NAUERT: Ah, to the Iraqi Government.

QUESTION: -- they will be held responsible and therefore --

MS NAUERT: We closely coordinate with the Iraqi Government.

QUESTION: -- subjected to sanctions.

MS NAUERT: We have a terrific relationship with the Iraqi Government. I don’t have anything specific for you on that particular issue. Whether or not we’ve had any conversations with them in that regard, I just don’t have any information on that.