This Week at State: July 28, 2017

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This Week at State: July 28, 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 entry.

Here are the highlights from This Week at State:

Secretary Tillerson Met With Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Secretary Rex W. Tillerson met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the State Department on July 26 to discuss Syria and regional security issues. During Prime Minister Hariri’s visit, the United States announced that we will provide more than $140 million in additional humanitarian assistance in Lebanon to address the urgent needs of refugees from Syria as well as Lebanese host communities.

Lebanon currently hosts more than 1.5 million refugees, representing nearly a quarter of its population. The newly announced funding brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to Lebanon to more than $1.5 billion since the start of the Syria crisis in 2012. Through this support, the United States will provide food assistance, shelter for the most vulnerable families, emergency and hospital care, humanitarian protection, and child immunization and nutrition to the more than one million refugees and Lebanese host populations that are in need. The United States will also support infrastructure projects that improve access for Lebanese and refugees to safe drinking water and wastewater services. 

United States Imposed Sanctions on Current and Former Venezuelan Government Officials

On July 26, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 13 current or former senior officials of the Government of Venezuela. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley released a statement saying: 

“Through sanctions on individuals associated with corruption and violence against the Venezuelan people,” the United States has kept its promise to “not stand by and watch the Maduro regime continue to brutalize its citizens and destroy their democracy.” Ambassador Haley further remarked that the United States “will look into additional measures to hold the Maduro regime accountable. We will also continue to have the backs of the Venezuelan people as they fight to save their once prosperous democracy—even in the face of violence, intimidation, and denial of services by their own government.”

Secretary Tillerson Met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Washington, D.C.

Secretary Tillerson met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the State Department in Washington, D.C. to continue discussions on the ongoing Gulf crisis.

United States Welcomed Libyan Dialogue and Joint Declaration

The United States remains committed to working with Libya and our international partners to help resolve the political conflict and advance peace and long-term stability in Libya.  This week, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said:

We welcome the Joint Declaration from the July 25, meeting between Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and General Khalifa Haftar, hosted outside of Paris by French President Emmanuel Macron. We call on all Libyans to support political dialogue and adhere to a cease-fire, as stated in the Joint Declaration.

The United States also welcomes new UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salamé as the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, which plays a critical role in advancing lasting peace and stability. We look forward to working with him to help Libyans reach a political solution.

PEPFAR Released New Data Showing Progress in the Fight Against HIV

This week, the United States announced that through support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) four African countries are approaching control of their HIV epidemics. Groundbreaking new PEPFAR data show that the HIV epidemic is coming under control across all age groups in Swaziland, the country with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. Additional PEPFAR-supported studies released in December 2016 for Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe also demonstrate significant progress toward controlling the HIV epidemics in these countries.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to the global HIV/AIDS response. Through PEPFAR, the United States continues to invest in over 50 countries, ensuring access to services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups. Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among the 13 highest-burden countries that have the greatest potential to control their epidemics by 2020 through the UNAIDS 90-90-90 framework and expansion of HIV prevention, leading PEPFAR to accelerate its efforts in these particular countries.

United States Hosted Eighth U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue

The United States and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic held their 8th annual Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue on July 25 in Washington.  The United States and Lao officials discussed broader regional developments and threats to regional security, including those posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea). During the dialogue Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton reiterated the enduring U.S. commitment to continued close relations with Laos as well as to the Asia Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In August 2017, the Philippines will host the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and Post-Ministerial Conferences and continue this year’s commemoration of 50 years of ASEAN.

State Department and USAID Employees Recognized During #AmericanHeroesWeek

Department Spokesperson Nauert marked “American Heroes Week” by highlighting the efforts of State Department and USAID public servants who have dedicated their careers to helping Americans and fostering a more peaceful world.

Spokesperson Nauert said, “Lifesaving and tireless work of our diplomats and aid workers embodies America’s dedication to creating a safer and more prosperous world. Our assistance abroad is a testament to the generosity and the goodwill of the American people, and I’d like to thank my colleagues here at the State Department for doing such incredible work around the world.”

“American Heroes Week” coincided with the State Department’s 228th birthday on July 27.   As we mark two hundred and twenty-eight years, the Department remains dedicated to U.S. national security, economic prosperity, and the safety and security of our citizens. Go to history.state.gov to learn more about the Department’s history.

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.