Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pacific News Minute: U.S. Secretaries of State, Defense On Pacific Tours

Staff Sgt. B. Nicole Mejia
U.S. Army
Mark Esper, Secretary of the Army, attends the annual AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are both visiting American allies in the Pacific. For Esper, it’s his first foreign trip since being confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Both secretaries issued hawkish statements criticizing China at an annual ministerial meeting in Sydney. After a prominent Australian security analyst said that Canberra should not follow Donald Trump into a confrontation with Beijing the United States was unlikely to win, Secretary Pompeo replied, “You can sell your soul for a pile of soy beans, or you can protect your people.” 

At that same news conference, Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds pointedly declined to join the U.S. effort to escort oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and said Australia had not been asked to host new American medium range missiles. Secretary Esper says he wants to deploy conventionally armed intermediate range missiles in the Pacific sooner rather than later, but has not said where he hopes to base them.

On his visits to Japan and South Korea, Secretary Esper may have a hard time explaining President Trump’s dismissal of recent North Korean missile tests as “very standard,” when both Tokyo and Seoul see them as a direct threat.

On Monday, Secretary Pompeo became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit the Federated States of Micronesia. He met with leaders of the FSM, the Marshall Islands and Palau and announced the start of negotiations to renew the Compacts of Free Association, but he then struggled to address the three countries’ existential concern over climate change, which President Trump has dismissed as a hoax.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Related Content