This Week at State: July 7, 2017

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This Week at State: July 7, 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:

State Tillerson Departed for Travel to Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, and Kuwait

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson departed on travel to accompany President Donald J. Trump at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is at left, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is at right.

On July 9, Secretary Tillerson will make his first official visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he will meet with President Poroshenko as well as with young leaders in government and civil society. The Secretary will reaffirm America’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, while encouraging the Government of Ukraine to continue implementing reforms that will strengthen Ukraine’s economic, political, and military resilience.

The Secretary will then travel to Istanbul, Turkey, July 9–10, where he will meet with senior Turkish officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.

On July 10, at the invitation of the Emir of Kuwait, the Secretary will travel to Kuwait City, Kuwait, where he will meet with senior Kuwaiti officials to discuss ongoing efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute. You can follow his trip on www.state.gov.

Secretary Tillerson Announced Appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker as the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations

On July 7, Secretary Tillerson announced his appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker, who has served previously as the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, as well as Director for European and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council, will take responsibility for advancing U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements. He will accompany Secretary Tillerson to Kyiv on Sunday, July 9, and is expected to continue to hold regular meetings with Ukraine and the other members of the Normandy Format: Russia, Germany, and France.

In the announcement, Secretary Tillerson noted, "Kurt's wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace.  The United States remains fully committed to the objectives of the Minsk agreements, and I have complete confidence in Kurt to continue our efforts to achieve peace in Ukraine."

Secretary Tillerson Addressed the Current Situation in Syria

On July 5, before departing for the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Secretary Tillerson issued a statement on the current situation in Syria.  Secretary Tillerson said:

“First, parties in Syria must ensure stability on the ground. If we do not achieve stability in Syria, our progress in defeating ISIS may be undone. Secondly, parties must work through a political process to achieve a settlement that charts a way forward for the Syrian people. Lastly, Russia has a special responsibility to assist in these efforts.”

As organized military efforts to defeat ISIS on the ground in Syria continue, the United States and our partners in the Coalition to Defeat ISIS are committed to ensuring that civilians from recently liberated areas can begin the process of returning home and rebuilding their lives. Actors in Syria must remember that our fight is with ISIS. We call upon all parties, including the Syrian government and its allies, Syrian opposition forces, and Coalition forces carrying out the battle to defeat ISIS, to avoid conflict with one another and adhere to agreed geographical boundaries for military de-confliction and protocols for de-escalation.

Next week, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk will host senior leaders of the Coalition for a series of meetings in Washington D.C.  These meetings are taking place at a key moment in the coordinated fight and will help shape the combined efforts to destroy ISIS. Through Coalition support, Mosul is on the verge of liberation by the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Syrian Democratic Forces have taken the fight against ISIS directly to Raqqa. As ISIS is defeated on the battlefield, the Coalition will continue to increase its stabilization efforts to facilitate the voluntary return home of those who have been displaced by the violence.

United States Condemned North Korea's Launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

The United States strongly condemned North Korea's July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) .  ”The test represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world,” said Secretary Tillerson in a statement released following news of the launch.

Global action is required to stop a global threat. Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.

The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.

On July 5, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley delivered remarks at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea reiterating the United States’ condemnation.

The President and his national security team are continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners.

United States Condemned Attack on Members of the Venezuelan National Assembly

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert called the July 5 attack on members of the Venezuelan National Assembly by armed supporters of the government of President Nicolas Maduro “unacceptable.”  Spokesperson Nauert said:

“This violence, perpetrated during the celebration of Venezuela’s independence, is an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela’s independence 206 years ago today.

“We call on the Venezuelan government to immediately provide for the protection of the National Assembly, ensure those injured in today’s attack are able to receive medical attention, and bring the attackers to justice. We urge all sides in Venezuela to refrain from violence.”

The United States joined nations across the hemisphere and called upon the government of Venezuela to live up to commitments it made in the Vatican-facilitated dialogue process last fall to hold free, fair, and credible elections immediately, respect the constitution and the National Assembly, provide for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and tend to the humanitarian needs of the Venezuelan people.

Applications Encouraged for Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternships

The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is the largest virtual internship program in the world. Managed by the U.S. Department of State, VSFS offers all federal agencies the opportunity to host remote interns. More than 1,000 vacancies with more than 30 federal agencies are available, offering VSFS interns unique mentoring and exposure to job opportunities within the United States. 

Applications for the 2017-2018 VSFS program are open now on USAJOBS.gov. Deadline to apply isJuly 26,2017.. A full listing of projects on offer can be found at  vsfs.state.gov/ by clicking “See All Projects.”.  Follow @VSFSatState on Twitter for the latest VSFS news and 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.