This Week at State: June 9, 2017

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This Week at State: June 9, 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:

Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis Took Part in 2017 AUSMIN Consultations in Sydney

On June 5, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Sydney, Australia, with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to participate in the 2017 Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) Consultations hosted by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne.

Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and their counterparts discussed a full range of U.S-Australian cooperation efforts on bilateral, regional, and global issues.  The Secretaries and their Australian colleagues also looked to coordinate policies and identify ways to further strengthen the alliance and deepen cooperation between our two governments.

After the meeting, Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis held a joint press conference alongside Australian Foreign Minister Bishop, during which Secretary Tillerson underscored our mutual commitment to ongoing peace and security efforts in the region, stating:

 “We will work together to support democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and that includes defending the rules-based order which the Asia Pacific region depends upon.”

Secretary Tillerson Reaffirmed Strong Bilateral Ties with New Zealand

Following the stop in Sydney, Secretary Tillerson traveled to Wellington, New Zealand, where he reaffirmed the strong ties between our two countries and discussed coordination on shared strategic interests with Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee.  The U.S.-New Zealand partnership is aimed at growing people to people ties; promoting democracy, commerce, and economic growth across the Pacific; and pushing the boundaries of scientific cooperation

In a press conference with New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Secretary Tillerson noted that the United States’ relationship with New Zealand is a visible demonstration of our commitment to shared values around freedom and an international rules-based order.

 

Secretary Tillerson Delivered Statement on the Situation in the Middle East

On June 9, Secretary Tillerson delivered a statement to the press on the situation in the Middle East at the State Department in Washington, D.C.  In his remarks, the Secretary stated:   

The United States wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the spirit of the [Gulf Cooperation Council] summit.  As we combine efforts to defeat the military, financial, and ideological support of terrorists, we expect to see progress in the Arab world toward greater political expression.  An important pathway to attack Islamic extremism and to prevent political activism from escalating into violence is to allow marginalized voices opportunities for political expression.

We call for calm and thoughtful dialogue with clear expectations and accountability among the parties in order to strengthen relationships.  We ask that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region.  We expect countries of the Global Cooperation Council to immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good-faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other.   

Ambassador Nikki Haley Addressed the UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attended the UN Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, where she spoke addressed the situation in Venezuela.  During her remarks at a special June 6 UN Human Rights Council side event on human rights and democracy in Venezuela, Ambassador Haley asserted:

"For years, what has passed for “peace” in Venezuela has masked horrendous inner suffering. Venezuela’s security has been utterly insecure because it has been purchased with the human rights and self-determination of its people."

She closed by saying, “Venezuela has democratic traditions. If those traditions were honored, the Venezuelan people would save themselves. They know what needs to be done. It is our job to assist in paving the way toward giving the Venezuelan people back their rights, their dignity, and their prosperity.”

She closed by saying, “Venezuela has democratic traditions. If those traditions were honored, the Venezuelan people would save themselves. They know what needs to be done. It is our job to assist in paving the way toward giving the Venezuelan people back their rights, their dignity, and their prosperity.”

Montenegro Welcomed to the NATO Alliance

At a June 5 ceremony hosted at the Department of State, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon marking Montenegro’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic took part in the ceremony during which he officially deposited the instrument of accession, making Montenegro the twenty-ninth member of the NATO Alliance.  A few days later, on June 7, Montenegro’s flag could be seen flying at NATO Headquarters for the first time.

This June 5 event represented the culmination of many years of effort on behalf of the government and people of Montenegro to join the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. Montenegro’s NATO membership will support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security, and stability with all of its neighbors.  Montenegro’s accession also reaffirms to other aspirants that NATO’s door remains open to those countries willing and able to make the reforms necessary to meet NATO’s high standards, and to accept the risks, responsibilities as well as benefits of membership.

Secretary Tillerson Marked Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month

In recognition of LGBTI Month, Secretary Tillerson affirmed the Department of State’s solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom in a statement issued on June 7.

The United States remains committed to human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons. Dignity and equality for all persons are among our founding constitutional principles, and these principles continue to drive U.S. diplomacy.

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