This Week at State: May 5, 2017

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This Week at State: May 5, 2017

Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week? We’ve got you covered. Each week DipNote recaps the latest U.S. Department of State highlights spanning a wide range of global issues, events, and initiatives in one blog post.

Here are the highlights from This Week at State:

Secretary Tillerson Addressed State Department Employees 

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson addressed State Department employees to share his perspective on the Department’s progress in implementing an ‘America first’ foreign policy and to outline the path forward.

In his remarks, Secretary Tillerson discussed several examples of U.S. engagement around the world in the first few months of the administration, including efforts to address challenges posed by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K. or North Korea), ISIS, and transnational crime in the Western Hemisphere. Secretary Tillerson also highlighted the importance of working with allies like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, and Russia to advance U.S. economic and security interests. Secretary Tillerson then discussed efforts to reshape how the State Department delivers on its mission in the post-Cold War era and thanked the men and women of the State Department for their continued professionalism, commitment, and patriotism.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Gather at the Department of State

On May 4, U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson hosted the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Department of State for a special U.S.-ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting. The event commemorated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and ASEAN nations and followed the 30th ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Dialogue held earlier this week during which senior officials discussed political, security, and economic cooperation.

During the meeting, Secretary Tillerson reinforced the close ties between the United States and ASEAN, underscoring that the Asia-Pacific region is a top priority under the Trump Administration and that ASEAN is an essential partner.

United States Marked World Press Freedom Day

The United States joined the rest of the globe in marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3. Since the UN General Assembly proclaimed the day in December 1993, citizens around the world have used the occasion to celebrate freedom of the press and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. 

 “Ethical and transparent media coverage is foundational to free and open societies. It promotes accountability and sparks public debate. Societies built on good governance, strong civil society, and an open and free media are more prosperous, stable, and secure.” - Press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Secretary Tillerson Delivered Remarks at Annual Model United Nations Conference

On May 2, Secretary Tillerson welcomed nearly 700 Washington-area students to the State Department’s annual Model United Nations (UN) conference.  In his remarks, Secretary noted how encouraged he felt by the students’ interest in global affairs and urged them to consider a future career in diplomacy.  He also underscored how programs like the Model UN help develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills vitally important for America’s future leaders.

The event marked the 14th year that the State Department has hosted to the Model UN conference, a partnership between the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s Global Classrooms DC initiative. Since the program’s inception, more than 9,000 elementary, middle, and high school students have engaged in lively debates on international affairs with the support of foreign affairs experts at the Department of State. 

State Department Paid Tribute to Fallen Colleagues on Foreign Affairs Day

Each year on the first Friday of May, the State Department observes Foreign Affairs Day -- the annual homecoming for our Foreign Service and Civil Service retirees and commemoration for fallen colleagues.  Foreign Affairs Day recognizes employees of all foreign affairs agencies, including the State Department, for their dedication and service to addressing foreign policy and development challenges around the world.

As part of the State Department’s annual Foreign Affairs Day activities, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks paying tribute to foreign affairs professionals who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country around the world. The Memorial Plaque Ceremony was held in the lobby of the Harry S Truman building, and was attended by senior State Department officials and employees who joined to honor their fallen colleagues.

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.

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