Former United States Vice President Mike Pence, now a candidate to be the 2024 Republican Presidential Nominee, took questions from college students at Georgetown University on national security and foreign policy issues.
The event was hosted by Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and the Associated Press. Upon entering the stage, Pence spoke on pressing international issues ranging from the War in Ukraine, China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific, and the need for American strength on the global stage.
Toward the end of the Q&A, a young student asked the Vice President how his administration would deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran following its illegal enrichment of uranium, repression of protesters, and spread of terrorism in the Middle East via its proxies.
Pence praised the former administration’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and criticized the Biden administration for trying to re-enter the accords, stating that the President and his team spent the last few years “begging the mullahs in Iran to get back into the deal.”
The former Vice President said he was glad for American hostages in Iran to return home, but “transferring six billion dollars to the dictators and tyrants in Tehran in exchange for six hostages was unconscionable.”
“It put Americans overseas and around the world in danger. The US must never pay ransom for hostages and yet this administration just did. The Biden administration is ignoring many of our allies around the world while, at the same time, kowtowing to authoritarian regimes,” Pence said.
“We’ve got to send an unambiguous message that we are going to continue to expand the Abraham Accords, work to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically,” Pence said. He also emphasized America’s support for Israel, stating that the US must provide the Jewish state the resources it needs to defend itself.
“In the event that Israel is faced with a military attack, America would stand by with Israel shoulder-to-shoulder and defend our most unambiguous partner.”
Regarding the protesters in Iran, Pence said that as President, he would send a message to the Iranian people that America stands with them.
“You look at the protests that have taken place in the streets, and particularly courageous women in Iran who have been persecuted and jailed in the last two years to be attempted to be put down and silenced by the mullahs. We’ve got to send a message to the people of Iran that we are with you, for you, we want to see you get freedom, but at the same time, tell Iran that we will not tolerate their malign influence and tolerate them obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said.
The conversation then shifted to Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization, with the former Vice President stating that the dialogue was very positive but that he wanted to understand the details of what a potential agreement would look like.
“We saw the first peace deal between Arab countries and Israel in more than 30 years, but it all began with recognizing that America stands with Israel.”
Pence said that strong American leadership is needed to normalize relations between Jerusalem and Riyadh, which requires bringing partners to the table to expand the Arab Israeli alliance against Iran and open economic cooperation.
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