This Week at State: June 16, 2017

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This Week at State: June 16, 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 Kelly Convened the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America

On June 15–16, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly convened the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, in partnership with the Government of Mexico, in Miami, Florida. The conference brought together business and government leaders from the United States, Mexico, Central American countries, and other nations to address the economic, security, and governance challenges in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The conference underscored the U.S. commitment to the Northern Triangle, while also highlighting that it will take strong leadership from the United States, Mexico, and other partners to tackle the economic, security, and governance challenges facing the region.

Secretary Tillerson Testified on the FY 2018 Budget Request for the Department of State and USAID

On June 13, Secretary of State Tillerson testified on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations. In his opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Tillerson noted:

“…America’s global competitive advantages and standing as a leader are under constant challenge. The dedicated men and women of the State Department and USAID carry out the important and often perilous work of advancing America’s interest every day, 24/7, 365 days a year. That mission is unchanged.”

On June 14, Secretary Tillerson appeared before the House Foreign Relations Committee and before the House Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations, where he stated:

“We are motivated by the conviction that the more we engage with other nations on issues of security and prosperity, the more we will have opportunities to shape the human rights conditions in those nations. History has shown that the United States leaves a footprint of freedom wherever it goes.”

Across his two-day testimony, Secretary Tillerson reiterated that “even with reductions in funding, we will continue to be the leader in international development, global health, democracy and good governance initiatives, and humanitarian efforts. If natural disasters or epidemics strike overseas, America will respond with care and support. I am convinced we can maximize the effectiveness of the programs and continue to offer America’s helping hand to the world.”

U.S. Citizen Otto Warmbier Released From North Korea

U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier was released from North Korea on June 13. In an official statement released that day, Secretary Tillerson conveyed:

“At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea. Mr. Warmbier is en route to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family. The Department of State continues to have discussions with the DPRK regarding three other U.S. citizens reported detained.”

During a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that one of the highest priorities of the State Department is the safety, welfare, and well-being of U.S. citizens abroad.

State Department Hosted 11th Annual Global Peace Operations Initiative

The Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Department of Defense’s Office of the Secretary of Defense co-hosted the 11th annual Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) Worldwide Consultations at the State Department on June 12–16. Participants from the Department of State, Department of Defense, other key U.S. government organizations, and the United Nations discussed the evolving nature of peacekeeping; ways to strengthen performance and operational readiness of peacekeeping units; and efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. Participants will also review ongoing GPOI activities, share implementers’ best practices, and discuss program priorities for the years ahead.

GPOI represents the U.S.’s primary global investment for strengthening international capacity and capabilities to execute peace operations around the world. The GPOI program accomplishes this goal by enhancing partner-country capabilities to train and sustain peacekeeping proficiencies and by building the capacity of the UN and regional organizations to conduct such missions.

Citizen Diplomacy Summits Launched Across the United States

Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Global Ties U.S., launched a series of Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits, bringing together leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit world to further citizen diplomacy and forge new connections in local communities. The summits will take place across the United States, engaging Americans from diverse backgrounds on the innovations and impacts that stem from international relationships. More than 90 local U.S. organizations partner with the State Department on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and thousands of Americans volunteer their time to support State Department international exchange programs.

The first Summit convened in Kansas City, Missouri on June 15 and explored how social progress and women’s empowerment at the local level have ripple effects throughout the world. Subsequent Summits in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; and Austin, Texas will focus on entrepreneurship, civic and economic innovation, and economic development for Americans.

U.S. Delegation Scheduled To Attend the OAS General Assembly Next Week

A delegation from the United States will attend the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, June 19–20. The OAS is the Western Hemisphere’s preeminent multilateral organization, and the delegation will meet and consult with regional counterparts on issues of shared interest. The U.S. delegation will include Francisco Palmieri, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Kevin K. Sullivan, Interim U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS. Go to https://usoas.usmission.gov/ to learn more.

Inaugural U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue Announced for June 21

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the inaugural U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue (D&SD) will be held in Washington, DC on June 21.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will host Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s Joint Staff Department, along with members of the U.S. delegation and their Chinese colleagues for the D&SD.

This new, high-level framework for negotiations was launched by President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2017, to expand areas of cooperation while narrowing differences on key diplomatic and security issues. Follow @StateDept and @DeptofDefense for updates.

Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook for additional information and updates.

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