The United States will take a leadership role in the Asia Pacific region in the aftermath of the Covid 19 devastation, according to its chief diplomat, Mike Pompeo.

It would help countries to fight the virus and then help to rebuild their economies in the aftermath through foreign investment.

"The United States has been and will always continue to be the world's largest humanitarian assistance provider," the Secretary of State said in a conference call to journalists from the Asia Pacific region.

Whether it was in bilateral assistance, at the United Nations or the World Health Organisation it was the United States which led the way.


"I am very confident that will also be the truth with Covid-19," Pompeo said.
The US wanted to support countries to reduce the risk to their people.

"And then the United States will do what we always do best.

"One of the most important things we will do is we will deliver good economic outcomes to economies that have been impacted adversely by this virus."

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"If you just go back through the history whether that is in the 1960s or Asian tigers in the 1990s, the United States in the Pacific has always brought our best of the private sector. Investing with foreign direct investment and technology we have moved into this region that has lifted out of poverty tens of millions of people in Asia," Pompeo said.

"I am confident that in the aftermath of this, not only will the United States be there with humanitarian assistance but it will be American ingenuity, American entrepreneurship and American private sector that will show up in these countries and assist these countries getting their businesses back online, their employment back up to appropriate levels and help them get their economies back on track.

"We're committed to that both at the Government and I know the American private sector will step up as well."

Pompeo's charm offensive comes amid criticism against the Administration for its own response to the virus which has overwhelmed New York and claimed almost 4000 lives so far.


President Donald Trump has today projected that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die.

Pompeo was blamed for failing to get a joint statement from G7 foreign ministers to the crisis because he insisted on calling it the Wuhan virus - after the city in which it was discovered.

He was accused of not being focused enough in getting stranded US citizens repatriated home – and faced criticism last week for threatening to cut Afghanistan's aid by US$1 billion next year after the Government failed to back a potential US peace deal with the Taliban.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says in the aftermath the US will do what the US does best - invest. Photo / AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says in the aftermath the US will do what the US does best - invest. Photo / AP

Pompeo dismissed the G7 criticism saying it had been a case of "some pretty bad reporting". The G7 ministers had been unanimous in their belief they had to respond to Covid-19 using "the best of the West" in terms of technology and resources.

He condemned what he called "misinformation campaigns" about Covid-19.

'We have certainly seen them, not only from Iran and Russia but from China and others as well trying to tell a narrative.

"The narratives were different but each of them had the same component which was to avoid responsibility and try and place confusion about where the virus began, how countries are responding to it and which countries are actually providing assistance to others throughout the world."

Pompeo again condemned China for having recently expelled journalists from three news organisations, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall St Journal – a retaliatory move after the US tightened registration of Chinese state-owned media operating in the US.

"We thought that was a bad thing not only because we believe deeply here in the United States in freedom of information," said Pompeo, "but because it will reduce the capacity for all of us to understand what's happening not only in China but these reporters were reporting throughout the region."

He included their reporting on the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Washington DC in 2019. Photo / US State Dept
Foreign Minister Winston Peters and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Washington DC in 2019. Photo / US State Dept

It was important to have good information on testing, data sets, mortality rates or potential treatments that was understandable and could be validated, he said.

Asked if he thought the world would be more inward-looking and less open to global trade after the crisis was over, Pompeo said every country would look at whether they were prepared and had thought about the risks.

"Many nations will now see that President Trump has this right – the reciprocity in trade, the fairness in trade, all of the elements that President Trump has identified of the risks of an imbalanced trade situation.

"I think every country will see that there was some real impact that resulted from those imbalances and will try to get it right."

Asked about the role of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance - US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - Pompeo said it had been incredibly helpful in understanding the outbreak.

"I know that relationship well. I know the importance of the Five Eyes relationship and without sharing any particular data set about what's been going on, I am very confident that Five Eyes relationship has been incredibly helpful in...understanding this outbreak," said Pompeo, a form CIA director.

"Seeing this outbreak in a way that is important and transparent and then helping each of our Five Eyes partners deliver good outcomes against that.

"I've watched the Five Eyes mechanism work and it's a powerful effect from my year and a half as CIA director and I am confident that it did so and it is continuing to do so during this challenging time."