Pompeo: US Won’t Send Any Americans to Russia for Questioning
In an interview; to the Voice of America, the Secretary of State commented on Putin’s proposal
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US will not send Americans to Russia for interrogation on money laundering charges.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered US law enforcement officials to send representatives to Moscow to interrogate officials about Russian election interference if Russian officials are allowed to interrogate US officials, including former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
President Donald Trump called it an “incredible proposal”.
However, in an interview with VOA on Thursday, Pompeo rejected the idea that the United States would allow Russia to interrogate American citizens. The following are the main excerpts from this interview:
QUESTION: Secretary of State Pompeo, thank you very much for speaking with us.
POMPEO: I am very happy to speak at the Voice of America. Thanks you. Thank you for inviting.
QUESTION: According to the State Department’s World Religious Freedom Report, China has recorded repressions against Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. First, how would you react to the Chinese government’s claims that some of these groups are separatist??
POMPEO: The State Department has made it clear that, from our point of view, they are wrong on this issue, they are a source of concern. We understand that religious freedom is at risk in many parts of the world, but the United States maintains complex and ambitious relationships with many countries, including China, on a wide range of economic, military and political issues. Your viewers should know that the United States puts religious freedom, a fundamental human right, at the very center of discussions with all the countries we interact with..
QUESTION: As you said, freedom of religion is a universal value. How would you respond to China’s claim that the tracking program is partially aimed at preventing terrorist attacks??
POMPEO: I would not like to comment on this. Every country is working to ensure the safety of its citizens, but no country should use these counter-terrorism efforts as a cover to infringe on religious freedom. Freedom of religion is a separate aspect. Each person, by virtue of his human dignity, deserves the opportunity to profess his religion in the way he sees fit, and if he does not want to, then not profess any religion at all. No one should be punished by the government for their religious beliefs and practices associated with these beliefs.
QUESTION: Critics, including the authors of the State Department report, note that in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian forces continue to occupy religious buildings belonging to religious minorities for use as military targets. You have been to Helsinki. Was this meeting a success, and how were Russia’s activities in eastern Ukraine discussed??
POMPEO: I have seen these reports that the Russians are using places of worship. This is unacceptable. This violates numerous principles of using religious objects to protect their powers and creates real challenges. As for Helsinki, President Trump has made it clear to Vladimir Putin that their activities in eastern Ukraine are not in Russia’s interests. Our administration is very tough. We have provided assistance to the Ukrainian forces that the previous administration has repeatedly refused to provide. We believe that this creates conditions for Ukrainians to hold successful elections in 2019, and we very much hope that the situation will resolve itself. America still supports the wishes of the Ukrainian people.
QUESTION: Our time is coming to an end, so I will ask the last question. So in the last question you mentioned Russia. Her proposal to interrogate former Ambassador McFaul caused great concern. How would you…
POMPEO: Let me interrupt you. It will not happen. Russia has put forward a number of proposals during negotiations between President Trump and President Putin. These are proposals, comments, ideas from President Putin regarding this investigation. President Trump has made it very clear that we will not force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Russian law enforcement agencies. There is a lot of ado about this – I don’t know why. Americans can rest easy.
QUESTION: Many thanks.
POMPEO: Thank. It was very pleasant to talk to you.