US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t “fly halfway around the world to talk about annexation,” senior State Department officials who accompanied Pompeo on his recent visit to Israel told reporters.
According to a transcript of the conversation dated yesterday, Thursday, two officials were asked whether they thought Israel would proceed with “annexation on July 1st.”
“Well, I think – listen, the Secretary has said on the record and very publicly we are working with the Israelis to implement the Vision for Peace. The Israelis are working through this. We’re supportive of their efforts,” the first official said. “They’ve got a coalition government that has various strands. And I think it’s going to take them a while to come together with what they’re going to do.”
The second official added, “But I do think that we should dispel the notion that we flew halfway around the world to talk about annexation. That’s been reported [...] incorrectly.”
“That was not the purpose of the trip.”
“This wasn’t the top line,” official one elaborated, noting, “we have other major priorities. I mean, start off with the Iranian threat, which we tend to sort of ignore [...] because it’s a constant.”
Official one also noted that cooperation against Covid-19 was a topic of discussion, as was US concern about China’s influence in Israel.
“We talked about what we’re doing together, how we [...] can cooperate on the things we can do regionally together and further areas of cooperation. That was a topic of conversation. But it also sort of led to a conversation about China’s role.”
The official explained that “The Secretary doesn’t have a problem with people having relationships with China or having trade with China, but I think COVID sort of highlights the dangers of dealing with states that are not transparent, that don’t have fair trade practices, that really leverage and torque their trade to leverage certain things out of their trade partners.”
“Aside from sort of debt traps that we’re seeing, we’ve seen in Djibouti, elsewhere, right, where you have to give China a 99-year lease on a port – to other states. So a region where they’re really in debt and it’s causing major issues with the economy[...]”
“But in particular there’s the issue of strategic investment, that there is no such thing as a privately owned, independent company in China [...] If you use Huawei, if you use any type of company that has access to your DNA, that DNA becomes property and that information becomes property of the Chinese Communist Party. And so that’s a security issue.”
“And so whether it’s the large infrastructure projects, things they can do to those infrastructure projects, there are all kinds of dangers, and we – I think it’s important for us as allies, strategic partners to be able to discuss the type of threats and the types of ways to mitigate those kind of threats,” the official said.