News Feed Search

The White House Press

Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia

Fort Myer
Arlington, Virginia

9:02 P.M. EDT
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Please be seated.

Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, members of the Cabinet, General Dunford, Deputy Secretary Shanahan, and Colonel Duggan.  Most especially, thank you to the men and women of Fort Myer and every member of the United States military at home and abroad.

We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of our brave sailors who were injured and lost after a tragic collision at sea, as well as to those conducting the search and recovery efforts.

I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.  But before I provide the details of our new strategy, I want to say a few words to the servicemembers here with us tonight, to those watching from their posts, and to all Americans listening at home.

Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage, and resolve is unmatched in human history.

American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield for our nation and for our freedom.  Through their lives -- and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality.

By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal, and to remain one nation under God.  The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission, and one shared sense of purpose.  

They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed, and color to serve together -- and sacrifice together -- in absolutely perfect cohesion.  That is because all servicemembers are brothers and sisters.  They're all part of the same family; it's called the American family.  They take the same oath, fight for the same flag, and live according to the same law.  They are bound together by common purpose, mutual trust, and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other. 

The soldier understands what we, as a nation, too often forget that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all.  When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.  And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together.

Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another.  Love for America requires love for all of its people.  When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate. 

The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home.  We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.

As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas -- and we will always win -- let us find the courage to heal our divisions within.  Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name that, when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.

Thanks to the vigilance and skill of the American military and of our many allies throughout the world, horrors on the scale of September 11th -- and nobody can ever forget that -- have not been repeated on our shores.     

But we must also acknowledge the reality I am here to talk about tonight:  that nearly 16 years after September 11th attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory.  Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history -- 17 years.

I share the American people’s frustration.  I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly lives, trying to rebuild countries in our own image, instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.

That is why, shortly after my inauguration, I directed Secretary of Defense Mattis and my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia.

My original instinct was to pull out -- and, historically, I like following my instincts.  But all my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office; in other words, when you're President of the United States.  So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle.  After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and generals, to complete our strategy.  I arrived at three fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.

First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives.  The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory.  They deserve the tools they need, and the trust they have earned, to fight and to win.

Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.  9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.  A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.

And, as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq.  As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies.  Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS.  The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks.  We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense.  Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.  

For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.  The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict.  And that could happen. 

No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.  When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into:  big and intricate problems.  But, one way or another, these problems will be solved -- I'm a problem solver -- and, in the end, we will win.

We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now -- the threats we face, and the confronting of all of the problems of today, and extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal.

We need look no further than last week’s vile, vicious attack in Barcelona to understand that terror groups will stop at nothing to commit the mass murder of innocent men, women and children.  You saw it for yourself.  Horrible.  

As I outlined in my speech in Saudi Arabia three months ago, America and our partners are committed to stripping terrorists of their territory, cutting off their funding, and exposing the false allure of their evil ideology.

Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next.  They are nothing but thugs, and criminals, and predators, and -- that's right -- losers.  Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear: We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.

But to prosecute this war, we will learn from history.  As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways:

A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.  I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military options.  We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.

Conditions on the ground -- not arbitrary timetables -- will guide our strategy from now on.  America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.  I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power -- diplomatic, economic, and military -- toward a successful outcome. 

Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.  America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field.  

Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an everlasting peace.  We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society.  We are not nation-building again.  We are killing terrorists.

The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan.  We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.  Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan.  It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.

In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner.  Our militaries have worked together against common enemies.  The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism.  We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices.  

But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people.  We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.  But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.  No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. servicemembers and officials.  It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace. 

Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India -- the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States.  We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.  We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work, and work effectively and work quickly.

I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the Secretary of Defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy.  Micromanagement from Washington, D.C. does not win battles.  They are won in the field drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders and frontline soldiers acting in real time, with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy. 

That’s why we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.  These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide; that no place is beyond the reach of American might and Americans arms.  Retribution will be fast and powerful.

As we lift restrictions and expand authorities in the field, we are already seeing dramatic results in the campaign to defeat ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.  

Since my inauguration, we have achieved record-breaking success in that regard.  We will also maximize sanctions and other financial and law enforcement actions against these networks to eliminate their ability to export terror.  When America commits its warriors to battle, we must ensure they have every weapon to apply swift, decisive, and overwhelming force.   

Our troops will fight to win.  We will fight to win.  From now on, victory will have a clear definition:  attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge. 

We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own.  We are confident they will.  Since taking office, I have made clear that our allies and partners must contribute much more money to our collective defense, and they have done so.

In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces.  As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.  

Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us.  The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do.  Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future.  We want them to succeed. 

But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image.  Those days are now over.  Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests.  We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives.  This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward.  

Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country.  But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.

America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress.  However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.  The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden.  The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results.  Our patience is not unlimited.  We will keep our eyes wide open. 

In abiding by the oath I took on January 20th, I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives and American interests.  In this effort, we will make common cause with any nation that chooses to stand and fight alongside us against this global threat.  Terrorists take heed:  America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat.

Under my administration, many billions of dollars more is being spent on our military.  And this includes vast amounts being spent on our nuclear arsenal and missile defense.

In every generation, we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed.  We prevailed because we know who we are and what we are fighting for.  

Not far from where we are gathered tonight, hundreds of thousands of America’s greatest patriots lay in eternal rest at Arlington National Cemetery.  There is more courage, sacrifice, and love in those hallowed grounds than in any other spot on the face of the Earth.

Many of those who have fought and died in Afghanistan enlisted in the months after September 11th, 2001.  They volunteered for a simple reason:  They loved America, and they were determined to protect her. 

Now we must secure the cause for which they gave their lives.  We must unite to defend America from its enemies abroad.  We must restore the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home, and we must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.  

Our actions, and in the months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation.  With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace.

We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.

Thank you.  May God bless our military.  And may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
 
END
9:27 P.M. EDT

 
 
 

Statement on the Anniversary of the 2013 Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the Syrian regime’s deadly chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. This tragic event precipitated an international effort that led to the destruction of more than 1,000 metric tons of Syrian chemical weapons. Still, on April 4th of this year, Assad proved beyond a doubt that he still possesses these heinous weapons and is willing to use them against innocent civilians.

It is critical that the international community not forget these tragic events. We must speak with one voice and act with one purpose to ensure that the Syrian regime, and any other actor contemplating the use of chemical weapons, understands that doing so will result in serious consequences. As the President has made clear, the United States will do its part to prevent the use or spread of these weapons. Along with the many other nations that have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, we commit to work together to create a world without chemical weapons.

Today is an appropriate reminder of the importance of that commitment. We reiterate our call for all countries to stand together and leave no doubt that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

Statement by the Press Secretary on Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis kept us all laughing for over half a century, and his incredible charity work touched the lives of millions.  Jerry lived the American Dream—he truly loved his country, and his country loved him back.  Our thoughts are with his family today as we remember the extraordinary life of one of our greatest entertainers and humanitarians.  Thank you, Jerry.  You will be missed.

Statement from the Press Secretary

President Donald J. Trump will address our Nation’s troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. (EDT) from Fort Myer in Arlington, VA, to provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia.  

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims August 20 through August 26, 2017, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week

NATIONAL EMPLOYER SUPPORT OF THE GUARD AND RESERVE WEEK, 2017

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION


Throughout our Nation's history, Americans from all walks of life have made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedom.  Today, more than one million citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen continue this proud legacy as members of the National Guard and Reserve.  During National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, we express our gratitude to the employers and communities who support those brave men and women.

Employer support for the National Guard and Reserve is important to our ability to sustain an all-volunteer force.  Employers play a vital role in easing the transitions our national guardsmen and reservists must make from civilian life to military service and back again.  Whether they are participating in weekend training in support of readiness or deploying in response to a crisis at home and abroad, our national guardsmen and reservists are more effective when they have the support of civilian employers. 

Our Nation salutes our employers and business leaders who, often at their own expense, back their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.  As President, I will continue to focus on providing our men and women in uniform and their families with access to the services, benefits, and care they so deserve.  I encourage all Americans to join with our employers in facilitating the service our national guardsmen and reservists provide to our Nation and honoring the sacrifices they make in defense of our security. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 20 through August 26, 2017, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week.  I call upon all Americans to join me in expressing our heartfelt thanks to the civilian employers who provide critical support to the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve.  I also call on State and local officials, private organizations, and all military commanders to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


DONALD J. TRUMP

Statement by the Press Secretary

Each year, the Kennedy Center honors the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the United States with a weekend that includes celebrations and events.

The award recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions in the arts and the positive change they have made all over the world.

The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.

First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments.
 

President Donald J. Trump Approves West Virginia Disaster Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of West Virginia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from July 28 to July 29, 2017.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Harrison, Marion, Marshall, and Wetzel.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to the State and to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides in the counties of Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Randolph, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, and Wetzel.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Steven S. Ward as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT THE FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV.

 

President Donald J. Trump Signs H.R. 374, H.R. 510, H.R. 873, and H.R. 2430 into Law

President Donald J. Trump poses with Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members, and Senior White House Advisors, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in Laurel Lodge at Camp David near Thurmont, MD., as he signed the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

On Friday, August 18, 2017, the President signed into law:

H.R. 374, which makes permanent the authority of Washington, Oregon, and California to adopt and enforce State laws governing fishing and processing in their State in any Dungeness crab fishery for which there is no fishery management plan in effect;

H.R. 510, the "Rapid DNA Act of 2017," which authorizes criminal justice agencies to use Rapid DNA instruments approved by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct certain DNA analysis outside of a laboratory;

H.R. 873, the "Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act," which authorizes the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to establish a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on Federal land in the District of Columbia; and

H.R. 2430, the "FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017," which reauthorizes Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee programs for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilars; and to amend FDA authorities and activities related to medical products, including pediatric drugs and devices, generic drugs, device inspections, drug exclusivity, and user fee reporting requirements.
 

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint John B. Sherman as Chief Information Officer of the Intelligence Community, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

John B. Sherman of Texas, to be Chief Information Officer of the Intelligence Community, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Mr. Sherman currently serves as the Deputy Director of CIA’s Open Source Enterprise, where he has been involved in incorporating open source intelligence and capabilities into the IC Information Technology Enterprise. Mr. Sherman began his intelligence career as satellite imagery analyst and manager, and served as a duty officer in the White House Situation Room. He has served in the intelligence community for over 20 years. Sherman has previously served in senior executive positions at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in areas of analysis, collection, homeland security, agency transformation, and foreign partnerships. Mr. Sherman served as the Principal Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Military Issues on the National Intelligence Council. Mr. Sherman has received the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, the CIA Intelligence Medal of Merit, and the NGA Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. Prior to his career in the intelligence community, Sherman served as a U.S. Army Air Defense officer. Mr. Sherman holds a B.A. in History from Texas A&M University and an M.P.A. from the University of Houston.

 

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Mariano Rajoy of Spain

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Mariano Rajoy of Spain to extend his condolences to the victims and families of the August 17 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. President Trump pledged the full support of the United States in investigating the attack and bringing the perpetrators and their associates to justice.

Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

SUBJECT:       Elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a Unified Combatant Command

Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under sections 161 and 167b of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct that U.S. Cyber Command be established as a Unified Combatant Command.  I also direct the Secretary of Defense to recommend an officer for my nomination and Senate confirmation as commander in order to establish U.S. Cyber Command as a Unified Combatant Command.

I assign to U.S. Cyber Command:  (1) all the general responsibilities of a Unified Combatant Command; (2) the cyberspace-related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; (3) the responsibilities of Joint Force Provider and Joint Force Trainer; and (4) all other responsibilities identified in section 167b of title 10, United States Code.  The comprehensive list of authorities and responsibilities for U.S. Cyber Command will be included in the next update to the Unified Command Plan.

I further direct that the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, provide a recommendation and, as appropriate, a plan to me regarding the future command relationship between the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

Consistent with section 161(b)(2) of title 10, United States Code, and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, you are directed to notify the Congress on my behalf.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP
 

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Elevation of Cyber Command

I have directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.  
 
This new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation’s defense.  The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries.   
 
United States Cyber Command’s elevation will also help streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations.  Elevation will also ensure that critical cyberspace operations are adequately funded.  
 
In connection with this elevation, the Secretary of Defense is examining the possibility of separating United States Cyber Command from the National Security Agency.  He will announce recommendations on this matter at a later date.  
 
Through United States Cyber Command, we will tackle our cyberspace challenges in coordination with like-minded allies and partners as we strive to respond rapidly to evolving cyberspace security threats and opportunities globally.  
 

Readout of Second Lady Karen Pence’s visit to Santiago, Chile and Panama City, Panama

The Second Lady started her visit in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday with a visit to Teleton Foundation where she observed an art therapy session with children. Teleton is a Chilean institution dedicated to the integral rehabilitation of children and young people with motor and cognitive disabilities. During the visit, Mrs. Pence received a beautiful piece of art from one of the young patients, which she will hang in her office at the White House. After the visit at Teleton, Mrs. Pence participated in a roundtable discussion at Espacio Crea with Chilean art therapists and university administrators. After the roundtable discussion, the Second Lady joined the Vice President to participate in a meet-and-greet with U.S. embassy employees and their families.
 
Today, upon arrival in Panama City, Panama, Second Lady Karen Pence joined the Vice President for a visit to Cocoli Locks. There, Mrs. Pence listened to remarks delivered by the Vice President. Following his remarks, they toured the Cocoli Locks Control Tower. After the tour, the Second Lady participated in an art therapy roundtable discussion with practitioners from the MAI Center and students of psychology. They discussed the emergence of art therapy in Panama and the opportunities for including art therapy curricula at the university level. After the roundtable discussion, the Second Lady joined the Vice President at the Tocumen International Airport for departure to Washington, DC.

Remarks by the Vice President and Panamanian President Varela in a Joint Statement to the Press

Palacio de las Garzas
Panama City, Panama

PRESIDENT VARELA:  (As interpreted.)  Good afternoon.  I would like to begin by energetically condemning the terrorist act that occurred today in Barcelona.  We share the pain of the people and of the Spanish government.  And we raise our prayers to the victims and their family members.
 
Vice President Pence, on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Panama, I would like to welcome you most cordially to our country as Vice President of the United States of America, Michael Pence, and his wife, Karen.
 
We are delighted that you've had the opportunity to visit our canal, a work which is the reflection of over a hundred years of friendship and cooperation between Panama and the United States, and which contributes to the strengthening of international trade.
 
This meeting has allowed us to share our vision on the opportunities and -- the opportunities that we can take advantage of and enjoy together on the basis of our excellent diplomatic relations that are consolidated here today.
 
You, sir, are a man of faith.  And men of faith in public life always strive for the common good.  That's why I am certain that this exchange that we have had will have an impact on the quality of life of many human beings throughout the region.
 
I take the opportunity to thank Vice President Pence for the attention -- or for the hosting in the United States, of the United States government and people during our visit to President Trump in June of this year.
 
During our talks, we clearly established that Panama is an ally and strategic partner to the United States.  We have a stable democracy with strong indicators of growth and economic stability; a police, which moves forward in transparency and accountability in the state, as well as in our financial system.
 
I have said to Vice President Pence that we have an enormous interest in having more American companies invest in our country and participate in infrastructure projects that we are currently developing. 
 
Panama has become the great connection for world trade with our logistic system -- the widened Panama Canal, the development of ports, the expansion of the Tocumen Airport and the master plan of the Interoceanic Plan which will turn our logistics hub into a world-class hub.
 
The participation of the United States and the development of the logistics and maritime sectors will be of mutual benefit because aside from adding value to the inter-oceanic route, it will allow American companies which use the Panama Canal to obtain better profits from this route.
 
We thank the United States for your cooperation in the exchange of information and best practices, which allow us to protect the financial and logistic system of our country.  It is our duty to protect the financial center and Panama’s logistics platform so that it may not be used for illegal activities or for purposes that do not go to the common good.
 
This has been a priority for me since I began my public service.  The commitment of our country to financial transparency and the security of the logistics and services platform in Panama is stronger by the day.  The path we have chosen shall not be reverted.  
 
Security is one of the fundamental issues that affects our region.  We have identified the challenges that we face, such as the increase in the production and trafficking in drugs, illegal migration, and the situation of the Northern Triangle, and the situation in Venezuela.
 
We have agreed on the risk that the increase in drug production in neighboring countries represents for the region, and we are determined to defeat that with the support of allies like the United States.  
 
We thank the government of the United States of America for their cooperation to improve the installed capabilities of our security agencies.  Panama is among the countries of the region that seizes most drugs per year.  We are making a huge effort to ensure security along the border with Colombia by increasing governmental presence in the border province of Darien.  But it is also necessary to strengthen intelligence sharing and the sharing of databases of those people who represent a threat.
 
It is alarming how organized crime, together with drug trafficking, makes the security situation in the region worse, causing death and greater poverty.
 
In my meeting with President Donald Trump in mid-June of this year I stressed my concern over the increase in drug production, which is a subject that you, too, have addressed during your visit to the region.
 
Our country is playing an important role in irregular migration, and we are protecting our borders to keep the safe and detecting irregular migrants to who represent a risk to the United States, to the Americas, and to the rest of the countries in the world.  
 
It is important to maintain cooperation between governments, as we did to face the Haitian and Cuban migrant crisis last year; the basis of which we created an integrated border security system.
 
We very specifically analyze the political conflict in Venezuela.  We are concerned about stability in that country and the breaking of the democratic order and the consequences that that may provoke.
 
Over the next few days, Panama will take measures which support the return of democratic order in Venezuela and strengthen our internal security together with migratory measures, always within the framework of respecting human rights of migrants.
 
The Panamanian government reiterates its position that the government of President Nicolas Madura must respect the separation of powers, human rights, freedoms, and the urgency to negotiate a political solution in the framework of the current constitution of Venezuela for the benefit of its population.
 
We share the concern for the interruption of the democratic and constitutional order by the authorities in Venezuela.  Panama is a country that builds bridges.  Therefore we maintain our position to help with a specific solution as a result of a joint effort throughout the hemisphere to contribute to a solution for the humanitarian political crisis in that neighboring brother country and its people.  For this we have joined the Lima Consensus, which maintains as a priority the defense of democracy on the American continent, trying to return to democratic order, and lessening violence in the Venezuelan people. 
 
We must strengthen political dialogue between nations in order to keep peace on our continent in the face of threats in the continent and in countries like North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and others.
 
In the face of the situation that we face in the countries of the Northern Triangle in Central America, we agree that the strengthening of institutionality, democracy, and honesty of men in public life is the key to social peace.
 
Panama is a regional ally willing to join capacities to contribute to peace and prosperity in our region on the basis of democratic values and transparency that we all share.
 
I wish Vice President Pence a good trip home, and I would ask him to take the message to President Trump and to the American people that Panama values in a very special way the ties with the United States that this relationship is based on as a result of our long history, trust, and mutual respect guided by a main interest of generating well-being for our peoples.
 
As our country’s coat of arms say -- Pro Mundi Beneficio is our motto and guides our foreign policy and our relationship with all countries in the world.  Panama is a country at the service of the world. 
 
Many thanks for your visit, Mr. Vice President. 
 
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Thank you, President Varela.  It’s an honor to be with you today.
 
Before I begin, allow me to take a moment to again address the horrific terror attack today in Barcelona, Spain.
 
This is a tragic day, and the latest scenes of carnage and mayhem sicken us all.  As President Trump said earlier today, “The United States condemns this terror attack… and we will do whatever is necessary to help.”  The people of Barcelona should know:  Our prayers and the prayers of all the American people are with the victims, their families, and all the good people of Spain. 
 
This latest attack, the worst terror attack on Spanish soil since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, shows us again that radical Islamic terrorism is one of the greatest threats that we face today.
 
ISIS has taken credit for this barbaric attack, but whoever is responsible should know that the United States of America, together with our allies, will find and punish those responsible and drive the evil of radical Islamic terror from the face of the Earth.
 
As I told you, President Varela, President Trump and I are truly grateful for Panama’s participation in our global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  Today, Panama is the only Latin American country in our coalition, and we call on all of our partners across Latin America to follow Panama’s example of leadership and join this global coalition.
 
Mr. President, we’re grateful for your commitment to this cause, for your partnership, and for the warm hospitality that you’ve shown me and my wife on our first visit to Panama. 
 
It was an honor, along with President Donald Trump, to welcome you to the White House just two months ago, and now it’s my great honor to be welcomed by you and Vice President St. Malo to Panama and the beautiful Palacio de las Garzas. 
 
This is the final stop on my first trip to Latin America, and I’m here, on President Trump’s behalf to reaffirm the historic friendship between the United States and Panama and to commit to strengthening our partnership in security and prosperity for the continued benefit of our people, our nations, and the hemisphere that we call home.
 
Mr. President, we are with you.  The United States of America stands with Panama as we pursue a brighter future together.
 
Nearly 114 years ago, the United States was the first country in the world to recognize Panama as an independent nation.  And just as we stood with Panama then, we continue to stand with Panama today as partners in commerce, security, and liberty.
 
Earlier today, I visited the Panama Canal, which represents not only a path between the seas, but the enduring strength of the bond between the United States and Panama.  Together, we built the canal with American ingenuity, Panamanian grit, and a lot of Pittsburgh steel. 
 
And, Mr. President, let me thank you and the people of Panama for your stewardship of the Panama Canal over the past two decades.  Your more than $5 billion investment in the canal’s expansion completed just last year was truly historic.  And it proves once again that the prosperity of both our nations is deeply intertwined and connected to that passageway.
 
The completion of the canal expansion has resulted in billions of dollars of investment in the United States, creating good-paying jobs in manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture already. 
 
And ports across America are growing to accommodate the new Neopanamax ships in Savannah, Charleston, and many more places.  In fact, the Port of Miami just completed a $2 billion expansion.
 
Let me also commend you, Mr. President, and the people of Panama for your continued embrace of free-market policies.  The reforms you've unleashed have created remarkable growth over the past decade.  And your personal commitment to this day I believe is inspiring countries across Latin America to follow Panama’s example.
 
For our part, the United States is proud to partner in Panama’s growth because your prosperity continues to contribute to our own. 
 
Since 2012, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement has lowered trade barriers, opened up new opportunities for investment, to the great benefit of both of our nations. 
 
As you know, Mr. President, that trade promotion authority has provided Panamanian exporters direct access to U.S. markets, pushing the total goods trade between our two countries to $6.5 billion last year.  And American businesses have invested $4.1 billion in Panama, creating jobs and opportunities for both of our nations.
 
Mr. President, I’m confident that with your leadership in Panama, and President Trump’s leadership in the United States, we will build on this foundation of success and achieve even greater prosperity in the future.
 
The same is true with security, which is the foundation of our prosperity and a key pillar of the strategic partnership between the United States and Panama.
 
I’ve already spoken about Panama’s leadership and partnership with the United States in the fight against radical Islamic terror, but Panama’s leadership is also evident in your strong cooperation with the United States on border security. 
 
At Tocumen International Airport, the United States has been proud to help Panamanian authorities screen over 15 million passenger records per year against U.S. databases.
 
And we have provided Panama with a state-of-the-art border management system that includes a biometrics-capture program called BITMAP for undocumented and high-threat travelers that Panama has put to good use.
 
Using this program, under your leadership, Panama has captured and shared a substantial number of records -- more than the rest of the world combined.
 
And, Mr. President, as we discussed today, Panama is on the front line in the fight to eliminate the flow of illegal drugs and dismantle transnational drug trafficking organizations here in the Western Hemisphere. 
 
The drug trade is the cause of so much of the violence, crime, and corruption that threatens the future of your people and ours.  And in the United States, the flow of illegal drugs has poisoned our children, torn apart families, and devastated too many communities. 
 
This threat faces us both.  And together, we will continue to confront it, and overcome it.
 
Panama has already proven itself an invaluable partner.  With strong U.S. support, last year Panama’s security forces seized more than 56 metric tons of cocaine, more than the rest of Central America combined.  And Mr. President, we are truly grateful for your personal commitment to this fight against illicit drugs.
 
Mr. President, in prosperity and security, Panama is leading Latin America toward a brighter future. 
 
But while our two nations and so many others embrace the promise and progress of freedom, one of our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere is retreating to the darkness of the past.  And you just spoke of them in your remarks.
 
As President Trump has said, in his words, the Venezuelan people are “suffering and they are dying.”  They are experiencing, as I saw firsthand when I met with Venezuelan refugees in my visit to Colombia early this week, families are experiencing grinding poverty, unable find the food and medicine they need to survive, and innocent children are literally perishing every day from hunger and deprivation. 
 
The once-free people of Venezuela are being forced to endure that fate by the brutality of the Maduro regime. 
 
Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Donald Trump told you in your meeting and has declared publicly, “the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.”
And you can be assured, Mr. President, we will continue to stand with Panama and with free nations across this hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people.
 
Mr. President, let me thank you once again for Panama’s strong call for restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
 
We particularly appreciate Panama for joining 11 other countries just last week to sign the Lima Declaration, which sent a powerful message that the free peoples of the Americas will stand with the Venezuelan people and stand up to their oppressors.
 
But President Trump and I call on Latin America to do more.  And know this:  The United States will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.
 
As President Trump has made clear, “We have many options for Venezuela.”  But the President and I also remain confident that working with you and all our allies across Latin America, we will be able to achieve a peaceable solution to the crisis facing the Venezuelan people.
 
Mr. President, I can assure you as well that what we do for Venezuela, we will do together.
 
Because, Mr. President, as you know, a failed state in Venezuela will drive more illegal drug trafficking with its murderous criminal consequences radiating to Panama and to our country to the north.  A failed state in Venezuela will drive more illegal migration, compromising our borders, and damaging our economies.  And ultimately, a failed state in Venezuela will endanger the security, prosperity, and well-being of the people of Panama, the United States, and the entire region.
 
As you and I discussed, we all live in the same neighborhood.  We succeed when our neighbors succeed.  We struggle when our neighbors struggle.  And so we will continue to act together to support the people of Venezuela in their fight for freedom.  And I believe with all my heart with your support, with the growing support of all of our partners and friends across Latin America, the Venezuelan people will be free once more.
 
Freedom is the cord that binds the United States and Panama together.  Today, we rededicate ourselves to this most cherished value.  And we pledge to strengthen our bond, to deepen our friendship, and to continue to work together to advance freedom, security, and prosperity for all our people, for both our nations, and for the wider world.
 
The United States and Panama stand together, and so we always will.
 
President Varela, thank you again for your hospitality.  It’s a great honor to be here with you today.
 
END

Remarks by the Vice President at the Panama Canal

REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
AT THE PANAMA CANAL
Cocoli Locks
Panama City, Panama

2:48 P.M. UTC
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  Thank you, Madame Vice President, for those gracious words, and for this warm welcome to Panama for me and my wonderful wife, Karen. 
 
Before I begin, I’d like to address the horrific terror attack that occurred just a few hours ago in Barcelona, Spain.  The latest scenes of carnage and mayhem sicken us all, and as the President said earlier today, the United States condemns this terror attack, and we will do whatever is necessary to help.
 
Whatever inspired today's terror attack, the United States stands ready to assist the people of Spain and find and punish those responsible.  On this dark day, our prayers and the prayers of all the American people are with the victims, their families, and the good people of Spain.  Thank you.
 
Vice President Saint Malo, Administrator Quihano, Minister Roy, Ambassador Gonzalez-Revilla, Ambassador Feeley, members of the Panamanian government, distinguished business leaders, outstanding students, and honored guests, it is a privilege for me and my wife, Karen, to be here today at this great pathway to prosperity -- the Panama Canal.  Thank you for this very warm welcome.  (Applause.) 
 
And I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, and a great supporter of the U.S.-Panamanian relationship -- President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  And I'm here today on the President's behalf because the Western Hemisphere and our great ally here in Panama are a key priority for our administration. 
 
Under President Donald Trump, the United States will always put the security and prosperity of America first.  But as I hope our presence here today demonstrates, America First does not mean America alone.  Today, as in ages past, the interests of the United States and Latin America are intertwined, our security and prosperity will rise in tandem, and our futures are forever linked.
 
As President Trump has said, we will seek, in his words, a future in the Western Hemisphere where the people of each country can live out their dreams.  And so I say to all of you:  The United States of America stands with Latin America to realize those dreams and achieve the historic progress that will benefit us all.
 
Over the past week, I've traveled across the wider region to deepen our friendships and strengthen our partnerships, and there is no better place to conclude my trip than here in Panama.  The bond between our nations was forged in the fires of liberty.  Ever since the sailors of the USS Nashville helped bring life to Justo Arosemena’s dream of Panamanian independence, the American and Panamanian people have been linked.
 
The United States was the first country in the world to recognize Panama as an independent nation.  And just as we stood with Panama then, we stand with Panama today as your partner in commerce and your friend in freedom.
 
And the Panama Canal itself is a manifestation of our bond –- forged with Panamanian grit and American know-how and Pittsburgh steel.  It's amazing, as I stand here today beside its newest lock, I cannot help but be humbled by this magnificent monument to our partnership.
 
The story of the Panama Canal is an inspiration and it can never be told enough.  For nearly 400 years, kings and traders and travelers alike dreamed of building a water link here, between the Atlantic and the Pacific.  They drew their maps.  They charted their paths.  They surveyed the land around us, but none could figure out how to begin, much less complete, this herculean task.  
 
None, that is, until the United States and Panama began to work together, guided by the vision and determination of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Where others saw obstacles, we saw opportunity.  Where others saw challenges, we saw a chance to change the world.  Where others saw the impossible, we saw the inevitable, and we rushed in to meet our destiny.
 
Building the Panama Canal was a challenge of magnitude, not miracles, and it brought out the best of the American spirit -- our boundless energy, our matchless ingenuity.  While the barriers we faced grew more and more, our determination to break them down grew even faster.  President Roosevelt declared that we would “make the dirt fly”.  And so we did, together.
In the months that followed, more than 50,000 laborers here in Panama cut a great channel across this isthmus.  They moved one million cubic yards of solid earth every day at their peak, and poured 3.4 million cubic meters of concrete. And after a decade of ceaseless, back-breaking, grinding toil, 103 years ago this very week the first ship officially sailed through the Miraflores Locks, and the world marveled at the wonder we had wrought together.  (Applause.) 
 
The Panama Canal changed the face of the Earth.  It united the Atlantic and Pacific, and it took not only Panama but the Western Hemisphere from the margins of global commerce to the very center of the world.  
 
But just as remarkable is what Panama itself has achieved since you took on the stewardship of this canal just two decades ago.  Panama initiated the largest expansion of the canal since its construction more than a century ago, and we stand, right now, at the new Cocoli Locks -- the crowning achievement of this historic project.
 
This expansion was nearly as audacious and momentous as the original construction.  It required the excavation of a huge new channel; the expansion of the originals, moving three-quarters as much earth as we did more than a century ago.  It put enough steel into the ground to build 29 Eiffel Towers.  Yours was an accomplishment of great consequence, and the reverberations can already be felt in the United States and across the wider world.
 
The Panama Canal expansion has resulted in billions of dollars of investment in the United States, creating good-paying jobs for our people in manufacturing and transportation and agriculture.  And ports across America are growing to accommodate the new Neopanamax ships in Savannah, Charleston, and many more.  In fact, the port of Miami just completed a $2 billion expansion.
 
These expansions prove once again that our prosperity is intertwined.  So let me -- with the Vice President here and so many responsible, let me just say congratulations Panama on one more great and extraordinary achievement.  (Applause.) 
 
But I didn't just come here today to talk about the Panama Canal.  More important than this monument to human strength is the spirit that made it possible -- the spirit of optimism, confidence, and the unwavering belief that we can accomplish anything when we steel our minds and embrace our futures together.  
 
The challenges and opportunities we face today are different than the ones we faced more than a century ago, but the United States and Panama’s drive to achieve them remains just the same.  
 
And in President Donald Trump, I think the United States once again has a President whose vision, energy, and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt.  Think about it.  Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared prosperity all across this new world.  Then, as now, we have a leader who sees things not just as they are, but for what they could be.  And then, as now, we have a President who understands, in his words, “A nation is only living as long as it is striving.”  
 
And just as President Roosevelt exhorted his fellow Americans to “dare to be great,” President Donald Trump has dared our nation to make America great again, and we’ll do it with all of our friends in the world. 
 
And so I say to all of you:  Under President Trump, the United States will break new ground and break new records.  We’ll recapture the spirit and rekindle the vision of our forebears in partnership with the free nations and free peoples across this hemisphere.  We will once again awe the world with all that we accomplish together.
 
Today, I believe that one of the greatest opportunities before us is to build on the legacy of trade that made the last 100 years so historic for this hemisphere.  The Panama Canal is an enduring testament to the power of commerce to transform fortunes and shape the future of nations. 
 
In just over a century, more than 1 million ships have traversed these locks.  As many as 15,000 ships sail through here every year, and two of every three either began or will conclude their journey in the United States.  
 
Our prosperity depends on this 48-mile path, and this is even more true following the Panama Canal’s expansion and the locks that stand beside me today.
 
Today, thanks in no small part to the Panama Canal, the United States is the largest trading partner for nearly two-thirds of the hemisphere, with a total two-way trade of $1.6 trillion. 
 
We trade twice as much with our neighbors in this hemisphere as we do with China, and we export more to the Americas than we do to all of Asia combined. 
 
But despite this progress, the untapped potential, we believe, is still vast.  Global trade is more important than ever before.  And the task before us today is how we’ll be able to unleash the flow of commerce in new and renewed ways for the benefit of all our nations in this hemisphere.   
 
As we speak, countries across this hemisphere are enacting bold reforms to unshackle their economies and empower their citizens to claim their futures.  These efforts are important and laudable, and the United States urges continued action by Latin America’s leaders to break down barriers to opportunity and success.
 
But so, too, we must together inaugurate a new era of free and fair trade based on the principle of mutual benefit. 
 
Make no mistake about it:  The United States of America wants to trade even more with our neighbors in Latin America.  The United States wants to invest more in Latin America.  The United States wants to share our business culture of entrepreneurship, innovation, and transparency on an increasing basis with Latin America because your prosperity and our prosperity are inextricably linked. 
 
President Trump has taken decisive action to ensure that our prosperity continues to advance together.
 
In fact, President Trump is already getting results, and thanks to his leadership, this has been a good week for American workers.  
 
Earlier this week in Colombia, I was pleased to announce that the United States has reached an agreement to allow Colombian Hass avocados into the U.S. market.  And Colombia has expanded access for U.S. rough rice -- a deal that will benefit American agriculture for decades to come.
 
And following my visit to Argentina this week, just moments ago, President Trump announced that after 25 years of barriers, American pork will once again be able to be exported to Argentina, and American farmers and ranchers will reap the reward.  
 
And to keep up this progress, at this very moment, our administration is reviewing all of our existing trade agreements and exploring new bilateral agreements.  And in all that we do, President Trump will be fighting to ensure that our trade agreements are free and fair and create jobs and opportunities for workers in the United States and in the nations that partner with us.
 
The United States has free-trade agreements with 12 countries in this hemisphere, including Panama.  These deals have been beneficial, but however good our agreements may be, they can all, invariably, be made much better.
 
That’s why just yesterday, the United States, Mexico, and Canada officially began to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
 
Simply put, we seek a deal in the original spirit of NAFTA -- one that holds to our highest ideals of free and fair trade and brings tangible benefits to American workers.  And Canada and Mexico agree that NAFTA has significant room for improvement to ensure a level playing field for all.
 
And as I told Prime Minister Trudeau last month, we will work together for a win-win-win outcome as we renegotiate NAFTA. And I’m confident that under President Trump’s leadership, we will modernize NAFTA and bring it into the 21st century.
 
The President and I are committed to bring this vision of mutually beneficial trade to all of the United States’ commercial relationships, in the Western Hemisphere, and all over the world. And the closer we come to creating a trade system that’s free and fair, the more we will unlock the vast untapped prosperity that will enrich our citizens for generations to come. 
 
The opportunity is ours, and so is the obligation.  And we will seize it, together. 
 
Today, I believe our future is bright -- brighter than ever before.  But as I close, let me simply say that I believe it could be brighter still -- if this new world finally and fully embraces our heritage of freedom.
 
The past half-century has seen so much of Latin America travel the road to liberty.  It’s been inspiring to watch.  Yet sadly, Venezuela has gone in the opposite direction -- toward dictatorship, not democracy; toward oppression, not freedom;  toward the past, and not the future.
 
In Venezuela, we are seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our very eyes.  As President Trump has said, the Venezuelan people are suffering and they are dying. 
 
I saw it myself earlier this week in Colombia when Karen and I visited with families who had fled from the horrors of their homeland in Venezuela.   They told me of the grinding poverty, of the crime and violence ripping apart their communities.  They told me how their families couldn’t find food and medicine, and how innocent children are literally perishing every day because of deprivation and starvation. 
 
Today, the once-free people of Venezuela are being forced to endure that fate by the brutality of the Maduro regime.  No free people has ever chosen to walk the path from prosperity to poverty.  No free people has ever chosen to turn what was once, and should still be, one of South America’s richest nations into its poorest and most corrupt.
 
President Donald Trump has made it clear:  “The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.” 
 
And I can assure you we will continue to stand with free nations across the hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people.
 
President Trump and I are truly grateful for President Varela’s strong leadership in condemning the Maduro regime.  We commend Panama in particular for joining 11 other countries to sign the Lima Declaration just last week, which sends a powerful message that free peoples of the Americas will stand with the Venezuelan people and stand up to their oppressors.
    
But President Trump and I call on Latin America to do more.  And be confident of this:  The United States will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.
 
As President Trump said just a few days ago, “We have many options for Venezuela.”  But the President and I remain confident that working together with all our allies across Latin America, we will achieve a peaceable solution to the crisis facing the Venezuelan people. 
 
Now we do this because it’s right.  The Venezuelan people deserve freedom.  And we do this as President Trump has said -- because in his words, a “stable and peaceful Venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere.”
 
Failed states have no borders.  A failed state in Venezuela will drive more illegal drug trafficking, with its murderous criminal consequences, radiating outward through Colombia and Panama and north to our country.  A failed state in Venezuela will drive more illegal migration, corroding our borders, burdening our economies.  And ultimately, a failed state in Venezuela will endanger the well-being of all who call the Western Hemisphere home.
 
The truth is we all live in the same neighborhood.  We succeed when our neighbors succeed.  We struggle when our neighbors struggle.  And so we will continue to act together to support the people of Venezuela in their fight for freedom.  And I believe with all of my heart that Venezuela will be free once more.  (Applause.)  
 
The truth is freedom is the birthright and legacy of all the peoples of this New World.  And just as freedom gave our nations birth and our peoples purpose, it is freedom that will guide us as we embark upon this new era in this New World.  And together we will show, in the words of President Roosevelt, the power of devotion to this lofty ideal of liberty. 
 
The task before us will require renewed determination and courage and commitment.  But as the Good Book says, if we are diligent in our efforts, we will see progress for us all. 
 
And so I have faith -- faith that the winds of progress are at our back, that we will catch those winds.  And I have faith that they will carry us foward together to a future of freedom for the people of Panama, the people of the United States, and for the people of this New World.
 
Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless Panama and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 
 
END  
3:08 P.M. UTC
 

 

President Donald J. Trump Approves Vermont Disaster Declaration

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Vermont and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding from June 29 to July 1, 2017.

Federal funding is available to the State and to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in the counties of Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Orange, Rutland, Washington, and Windsor.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Mark H. Landry as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas. 

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

President Donald J. Trump Announces United States Strikes Deal to Export Pork to Argentina

United States pork to enter Argentina for first time since 1992

WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump today announced that the United States and Argentina have agreed to terms that will allow United States pork to enter the Argentine market for the first time since 1992. The agreement follows the August 15 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina during the Vice President’s visit to Buenos Aires. President Trump first raised the issue with President Macri during their bilateral meeting at the White House on April 27.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were also fully engaged in completing the agreement. 

“Today’s announcement is a big win for American pork producers and proves that President Trump is getting real results for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Vice President Pence. “After 25 years of discussions, America’s pork producers will soon be able to export their fine product to Argentina. This is one more example of the commitment of President Trump and his entire Administration to breaking down international trade barriers and making free and fair trade a win-win for American workers, farmers, and our trading partners."

The United States is the world’s top pork exporter, and this agreement opens up a potential $10-million-per-year market for America’s pork producers. Argentina has blocked imports of United States pork since 1992, citing animal health concerns. Under the terms of today’s agreement, all fresh, chilled, and frozen pork and pork products from United States animals will be eligible for export to Argentina.

Argentine food safety officials will visit the United States to conduct on-site verification of the United States meat inspection system, after which United States pork exports will resume pending resolution of any outstanding technical issues.

The United States remains focused on expanding trade of other agricultural products between the United States and Argentina, notably beef, poultry, and fruits.
 

ICYMI: WSJ editorial: “Coal Makes a Comeback”

“Yet the Trump Presidency seems to have lifted animal spirits and coal. Weekly coal production has increased by 14.5% nationwide over last year with even bigger bumps in West Virginia (19%), Pennsylvania (19.7%) and Wyoming (19.8%). Exports were up 58% during the first quarter from last year. Apparently coal can be marketable if regulators let it be.”

Coal Makes a Comeback
Editorial
Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2017

Not long ago liberals hailed the demise of coal as inevitable while the Obama Administration strangled the industry with regulation. But don’t look now, Tom Steyer, because coal is showing signs of a revival and breathing economic life into West Virginia and other coal states.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy proclaimed in 2015 that coal “is no longer marketable.” She planned to be the lead undertaker. The Obama Administration worked tirelessly to fulfill her mission and may have succeeded had Hillary Clinton become President. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of work,” the 2016 Democratic nominee famously promised.

Yet the Trump Presidency seems to have lifted animal spirits and coal. Weekly coal production has increased by 14.5% nationwide over last year with even bigger bumps in West Virginia (19%), Pennsylvania (19.7%) and Wyoming (19.8%). Exports were up 58% during the first quarter from last year. Apparently coal can be marketable if regulators let it be.
… 
President Trump has called a cease fire to his predecessor’s “war on coal.” In February he signed a resolution repealing the stream rule under the Congressional Review Act. The Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is dismantling the power rule as well as the ash and mercury rules. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has re-opened leases and rescinded the royalty revaluation.
… 
This is all horrifying to the climate-change lobby, but they might note that U.S. coal exports are rising to countries that claim climate-change virtue. Exports to France increased 214% during the first quarter of this year amid a nuclear power plant outage. Other European countries like Germany and the U.K. are utilizing U.S. coal to stabilize unreliable renewable sources and make up for electric capacity lost from the shutdown of nuclear plants. First-quarter coal exports were up 94% to Germany and 282% to the U.K. Et tu, Angela Merkel ?

Coking coal used to make steel is also currently a hot commodity, and its price can soar whenever a storm hits Australia and shuts down mines as one did this spring. Metallurgical exports to China rose 357% during the first quarter. As much as Mr. Trump denounces China’s overproduction of steel, U.S. coal miners are benefitting.
… 
Read the full editorial here.


 

Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile

Vice President Mike Pence met today with the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, at the La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago. The two leaders celebrated the strong commercial ties, diplomatic engagement and regional security cooperation that define the positive bilateral relationship between the United States and Chile. Vice President Pence recognized Chile for its strong institutions and economic leadership that have served as an influential example throughout the region. The two leaders praised the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which has increased bilateral trade by more than 350% since it was signed in 2004, and Vice President Pence also indicated the need for additional improvements on intellectual property rights protection and regulatory transparency to further amplify its benefits. The Vice President highlighted Chile’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program as an indication of the country’s high standards, and thanked Chile for its active support for regional security initiatives, notably in Central America.  Clearly stating US resolve to ensure a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula, Vice President Pence called on President Bachelet to consider taking additional diplomatic and economic steps to maintain pressure on the Kim regime. The two leaders also shared their deep, personal concern for the erosion of democracy and emerging humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Vice President Pence thanked Chile for its public condemnation and diplomatic support, reiterating President Trump’s commitment to work with regional and global partners to use all available diplomatic and economic tools to restore democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.

Readout of Second Lady Karen Pence’s Visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today, Second Lady Karen Pence started the day with a visit to INECO Foundation, a neurological clinic specializing in treating neurologic and psychiatric disorders. There, she participated in a presentation of a patient’s journey of art therapy; observed an art therapy session with a stroke patient suffering from cognitive and motor complications; and participated in a roundtable discussion with diverse practitioners of art therapy in the greater Buenos Aires area. After the art therapy visit, Mrs. Pence enjoyed lunch with Mrs. Deborah Cooney, the wife of the Chargé D' Affaires at Fervor Restaurant. After lunch, the Second Lady enjoyed a beautiful walk in the city. Then, she proceeded to the Argentina Stock Exchange to listen to the Vice President deliver remarks to the Argentine and Latin American business community. From there, Mrs. Pence joined the First Lady of Argentina, Mrs. Juliana Macri, to visit the Teatro Colon. After the visit with the First Lady of Argentina at the theater, the Second Lady joined the Vice President to participate in a meet-and-greet with U.S. embassy employees and their families.
 
Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 16, Mrs. Pence will participate in activities in Santiago, Chile.
 

Pages