THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 18, 2017
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP,
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE,
SECRETARY OF STATE TILLERSON,
AND U.N. AMBASSADOR HALEY
AT WORKING DINNER IN HONOR OF LATIN AMERICAN LEADERS
Lotte New York Palace Hotel
New York, New York
6:48 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone. It’s a great honor.
I had a long conversation with President Xi of China this morning. We discussed some of the obvious things, and we discussed trade, and we also discussed a place called North Korea. It was a long call. It was a very good call. We have a very, very fine relationship, and let’s see what happens. I think we’re making great progress.
And we are going to be going to China during the month of November. You probably have it in your schedules, and I look very much forward to that.
And I’m thrilled to host this important dinner with leaders of some of the greatest allies in the Western Hemisphere, and that is so true.
We’re here to discuss the growing crisis in Venezuela. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country. His corrupt regime destroyed a thriving nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and despair everywhere it has been tried.
To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. It was one of the wealthiest countries in the world for a long period of time. And now the people are starving and the country is collapsing. Who would think that’s possible?
Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable. As responsible neighbors and friends of the Venezuelan people, our goal must be to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.
I’d like to thank the leaders in this room. We have some great leaders in this room, and I want to thank them for condemning the regime and providing the vital support to the Venezuelan people. Most of the media, the press, a lot of other leaders have no idea the tremendous job that the people, without exception, in this room are doing as leaders of their country in helping the people of Venezuela.
And I can tell you, we really appreciate it. And the world really appreciates it. So thank you all very much. We appreciate that so much.
The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on the path to imposing authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
We’re fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with all of the countries gathered here today. They’re doing very well with the United States. We want to try and change that a little bit so we can turn the tables just a little bit. You’re doing very well, and I congratulate you all.
Nikki knows exactly what I’m saying, and Rex knows exactly what I’m saying. But we have great relationships, and we do great trade. Our economic bonds form a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.
I ask every country represented here to be prepared to do more to address this unbelievably serious crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela, and we want it to happen very, very soon.
So again, I’d like to thank everybody. We look forward to having dinner with you, and we will talk individually about what ideas you may have concerning Venezuela and other situations that we’re also dealing on, including trade.
Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for being here. Would you like to say a word, Mike?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. It was my great honor to represent you and the United States in a trip through Latin America, and it is good to see many of the leaders that extended their hospitality to the United States.
And I echo your strong affirmation of the partnerships that are represented at this table — partnerships for prosperity, partnerships for security, and we look forward to continuing to work with all the leaders at this table to promote the mutual prosperity of all of our nations throughout this hemisphere. And it’s an honor to be here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mike. And Rex, would you like to say something? Secretary of State.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Mr. President, let me just add, first, my welcome to all of you to the dinner as well with the President. And these are all very important countries to the United States’ relationship in the Western Hemisphere economically, but also from a security standpoint. We have many, many shared issues to fight against crime, fight against corruption, narcotics trade, and all of you are very important in the cooperation that we receive in working together toward these shared goals.
So, very pleased to be with all of you tonight.
THE PRESIDENT: And Nikki Haley, thank you so much for the job you’ve done over the last long time to just put it together. We had incredible meetings today with France and with Israel. The two leaders — and they’re great leaders, and we covered a lot of territory. And we have a lot of agreement, I can tell you that.
So we’ve done a lot, and we’re going to be doing a lot more, I understand, for the next four days. So, Nikki, would you say a few words?
AMBASSADOR HALEY: We just want to welcome everyone to New York. I can tell you that in the United Nations, really, your ambassadors are great friends. And we have started to work really closely together because your region matters, and the partnerships and the friendships need to be solid so we don’t wait until crisis hits, but that we are already partnering in every way that we can.
So thank you for taking the time to be here, and enjoy New York.
THE PRESIDENT: Well thank you, Nikki, and thank you, Rex, and thank you, Mike. And we appreciate your being here. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.