'He's coming home for now': Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on US Taliban negotiator

George Stephanopoulos interviews Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on "This Week."
11:32 | 09/08/19

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Transcript for 'He's coming home for now': Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on US Taliban negotiator
First breaking news from president trump announcing he had canceled secret peace talks with the Taliban because of an attack that killed an American on soldier. They were negotiating a withdrawal of more than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan. Resident trump suggested the deal is dead for now. If the Taliban can't agree to a cease fire during these talks, they probably don't have the power to negotiate an agreement anyway. How many more years are they willing to fight. That's one of many questions for secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Good morning, George. Thanks for having me on. You said the peace talks were making progress. What happened between then and now? We made enormous progress working with the Afghanistan government of national unity as well as with the Taliban. We had a number of objectives. The president's mission has been negotiate a resolution that has benefit for our men and women. George I was out at Dover air force base with sergeant beretto's wife and two kids. He was a great man who was killed last week. We got to get it right so the terror can never strike again and at the same time reduce America's blood that we've given for two decades. We made progress. We had a commitment from the Taliban saying they would break from Al Qaeda publicly and permanently. We had a commitment that they would reduce violence. George, you were in an administration that would try to get Afghans to sit at the table. We had a commitment they would meet to begin reconciliation. Then the Taliban overreached. They killed an American in an effort to gain leverage. President trump said enough. There have been periodic attacks throughout the talks. Why pull the plug on this one? In the past you said that was a reason to continue the talks. It's true. There have been attacks during the talks. Attacks from the Taliban on Americans and enormous attacks from the American forces putting real pressure on the Taliban. In the last ten days alone we've killed over 1,000 Taliban. It's what's driven us to have the success at the negotiating table we were beginning to have. We reached a point where we were close. We made real progress. Then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments they made. When that happened, president trump said I'm not going to take that deal and work with someone that can't deliver on their commitments. In the end, George, you know this, an agreement is just a piece of paper. We have to see that change in behavior. When we saw this action when we were closing in on a solution and closing in on opportunity for the president to meet with the decision makers that can deliver that reconciliation to the Afghan people president trump said that's enough. We're not going to reward that behavior and broke it off. Are the peace talks now dead as well and the ambassador's efforts dead as well? He's coming home for now. I hope it's the case the Taliban will change their behavior and recommit to things we've talking about for months. In the end this will be resolved through a series of conversations. I hope the Taliban agrees to meet with the Afghan government. They say the jihad is going to continue. They just put out a statement. We'll see. America's capacity to protect our nation and terror from emanating from that place ever again, that effort will continue. The proposed deal had a withdrawal of more than 5,000 U.S. Troops. Does this collapse put any withdrawal on hold? The president hasn't made a decision on that yet. We'll be talking about that in the coming days. President trump has been clear we spend over $30 billion a year in Afghanistan. As you well know we have terror threats from lots of parts of the world, not just from Afghanistan unfortunately. Frankly our soldiers have delivered. The crushing of Al Qaeda has occurring over the past two decades. We've decimated their leadership. There are still challenges. ISIS is there as well. President trump is going to focus with the secretary defense and they'll think about making sure we have the right force posture to protect America from terror threats everywhere they emanate from including Afghanistan. We have to make a decision going forward. So it's still possible the pull-out will continue. Won't that increase the prospect that the Taliban can gain strength and make this a standing ground for Al Qaeda again? We'll never let that happen. So the troops will stay? We will conduct a mission in Afghanistan in a way that reduces risk to the American people. The right number, the force posture, the nature of the forces, our continued train and assist mission for Afghan forces so they can take the fight to the Taliban so we can get the peace and reconciliation, those are the missions we're setting out. The details of the right level of forces, president trump, the secretary of defense will make good decisions. I'm very confident in that. Meantime, the administration is taking some heat for considering have the Taliban to camp David. A couple Republican members of congress have said never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 911 and continues evil will never be allowed to our great country. Elizabeth Cheney said camp David is where America's leaders planned our response after Al Qaeda. What about the fact the president was wrong to have this meeting at camp David? I know both of those people and I appreciate their points. If you're going to negotiate peace, you have to deal with bad actors. I know the history of camp David too. President trump reflected on that. We all considered when we were debating to get to the right ultimate outcome. There have been discussions about war at camp David. There have been discussions about peace there as well. There have been some pretty bad actors travel through that place throughout recorded history. It's an important place. It's a place where we thought we could convince all the leaders of Afghanistan as well as the Taliban, we could convince them to head towards better conditions in Afghanistan. Not only for the Afghans, but better security for the American people as well. It was why the president was willing to go down that direction. He's willing to take risks to do that. He was willing to do that in this case too until the Taliban made this terrible decision. Let me ask you about Iran. They have stepped up enrichment of uranium. They announced that on Friday. This is what the CIA predicted would happen after the joint pull out from the nuclear agreement. Is the president still willing to meet with the Iranian president at U.N. General assembly next month? George, I predicted if we stayed in the Iran nuclear deal that we were guaranteeing the ayatollah a pathway to a nuclear weapon system. It's why we broke away from the deal. It's now why we made Iran's economy a shambles. We think their economy could shrink as much as 10% in the next year. This denies their capacity to work on their missile program. Isn't that what they're doing now? The terror attacks around the world increased under the jcpoa. The math is really very plain. Now Hezbollah is struggling for resources. Iraq, same thing. This is the mission set we're engaged in. We want to negotiate. President trump said he would meet with the president of Iran. No preconditions, he said that repeatedly. We know how this must end. We don't want violence. We don't want war with Iran. We want that revolutionary regime to stop its efforts around the war to put Israel at risk, to put the American people at risk and to deliver national security for the American people. That's the outcome we're looking for. Iran will never have a nuclear weapon on president trump's watch. Do you expect the meeting to happen? Couldn't tell you, George. It's up to the ayatollah. On North Korea their nuclear program, the talks have stalled. North Korea continues to test missiles. Are you concerned that Kim Jong-un is stringing president trump along? George, we took office with nuclear tests being conducted and long-range missile tests being conducted with too great of frequency. President trump and my team have been working to deliver on the promises that were made in Singapore back in June of the year before. We know chairman Kim has made the commitment to denuclearize. We're hopeful in the coming days or perhaps weeks we'll be back at the negotiating table with that's the best outcome for the north Koreans. We know we can turn around that economy. The mission is to make sure that nuclear weapons inside north Korea that have existed for a very long time -- George, you served in an administration where that nuclear stockpile grew as well. We have to make sure chairman Kim honors the commitments he made to president trump. President trump would be very disappointed if chairman Kim doesn't return to the negotiating table or conducts missile tests that are inconsistent with the agreement they made. You put your finger on the problem. The north Koreans have continued their nuclear program through president Clinton, president bush, president Obama. They seem to continue it now. These short-term missile tests are improving their program. Isn't that a violation of U.N. Security council resolutions? Chairman Kim's commitment to president trump was pretty he hasn't violated that. We're disappointed he's conducting the short-range tests. We wish he would stop that. Our mission is to get back to the table to present a mechanism by which we can deliver. I know you share this objective. A full completely denuclearized and verified denuclearized north Korea. I have to ask you a question on politics. You were in your home state of Kansas on Friday. I know Mitch Mcconnell has been pushing you to run for senate next year. If president trump asks you to run, will you? I don't speculate on stuff like that. It was cool to be back home. I spoke as part of the Landon lecture series. It was a prestigious set of speeches. It was neat to be able to go back home and do that. I said this repeatedly as long as president trump wants me to be secretary of state I'll do what I've been doing, focus on trying to deliver security for the American people. That's my mission every day. Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us. Thank you, George.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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