Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quizzed about U.S. dealings with Ukraine during a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev.
MODERATOR: We will have Matthew Lee from the Associated Press.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, you note the amount of assistance, military assistance, security assistance, and other assistance that the administration has given since January 2017. But it is a fact that last year for several months there was a portion of assistance that was being held up. It eventually moved, but it was being held up for a time.
My question is this: Was that aid or was a scheduled White House meeting for President Zelenskyy conditioned on a specific corruption investigation into Vice President son – Vice President Biden’s son and the Burisma company’s – involvement with Burisma? Was it then or is it now a condition of scheduling a White House meeting?
And for President Zelenskyy, are you still interested in a White House meeting with President Trump? And whether that is a condition – an investigation into the Bidens is a condition of that or not, is your country going to do that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Matt, I am unsurprised by your question. I suspect you will not be unsurprised by my answer as well. No, there’s no condition of the nature you described for President Zelenskyy to come to Washington and have that visit. It’s just simply not the case.
We’ll find the right time. We’ll find the appropriate opportunity. We want to make sure that it happens at a time when there are substantial progress, things that we can deliver between the two of us, and there’s a lot of work. Our teams discussed today all the opportunities. We see the economic opportunity for American businesses coming here. We talked about a handful of them just this morning, companies by name, real projects.
President Zelenskyy will be welcome to come to Washington when we have an opportunity to do good things for both the Ukrainian people and the American people. We’ll get it done. I am confident of that.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: (Via interpreter) Thank you for your question. Yes, please, help yourself with the interpretation.
Well, you know if I am interested to go on an official visit to the White House, Washington, D.C., while frankly speaking that would be the right thing for both countries for the relations between our countries and the status of Ukraine as it is, but at the same time I would like to say that this is a new profession for me to be the president of Ukraine and I am receiving a lot of invitations to visit this or that countries on different matters.
From the outset, I came to understand and I talk – talked at length with a person who has more political and diplomatic experience – this is the minister of our foreign relation – and I’ll ask him, “What are we going to do there? Why are we going this or that country? What could we get there? What can we agree upon there? What can we get back for our country? What are we going to discuss so that talking is not just words of traveler – as it seems to me happened many times in our country and is happening in many countries now.”
But the pivotal point is that when you can – what you can agree upon. With all due respect to the United States of America, when we have the subject matter of the talk except strategy and tactics but also important things we can agree upon, what we can sign, what we can get done, I am ready to go tomorrow.