This Week at State: August 4, 2017

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This Week at State: August 4, 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:  'America First Is Not America Alone'

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson delivered remarks to the press, addressing the Administration's foreign policy objectives and providing an update on developments taking place around the world.

Secretary Tillerson stated, "I think the President has been clear though that when we say America first it doesn’t mean America alone, and we do value our friends and allies; we value our partners. And we recognize and acknowledge our adversaries and our enemies, and we tend to think about our relationships in those types of terms.  But as we have said, America first is not America alone." 

During his remarks, Secretary Tillerson spoke about U.S. diplomatic engagement around the world. He also addressed the current redesign underway at the State Department and highlighted the important role the Department’s employees are playing in the effort. 

Special Presidential Envoy Reported on Efforts of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS

Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk held a briefing at the U.S. Department of State to provide an update on the D-ISIS campaign.

United States Will Not Recognize Venezuela’s Illegitimate National Constituent Assembly

The United States condemned the elections imposed on July 30 for the National Constituent Assembly, which were designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert described the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly as an “illegitimate product of a flawed process designed by the Maduro dictatorship to further its assault on democracy.”

The United States will not recognize the National Constituent Assembly. As Secretary Tillerson said, “We are evaluating all our policy options (as) to what we can do to create a change of conditions, where either Maduro decides he does not have a future and wants to leave on his own accord, or we can return the government processes back to the constitution.” 

State Department Official Testified on Way Forward in U.S.-Colombian Relations

This week, the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, testified before Congress on the future of U.S.-Colombian relations. Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues, Assistant Secretary Brownfield said, "We have a limited window of opportunity to roll back the recent troubling narcotics trends that threaten the safety and health of citizens here in the United States as well as in Colombia and throughout the rest of the Western Hemisphere."

In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Brownfield explained that the Government of Colombia has been a strong partner of the United States in the fight against crime and narcotics for more than 20 years. However, after years of progress in combating coca cultivation and cocaine production, Colombia is once again the world’s largest producer of cocaine. While the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) continues to assist the Government of Colombia with its interdiction and coca eradication operations, Assistant Secretary Brownfield noted, “To be successful, the Colombian government’s voluntary eradication and crop substitution program needs adequate financial and human resources as well as a clear implementation plan to succeed.”

Senate Confirmed New Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development

This week, the State Department welcomed the Senate confirmation of Mark Andrew Green as the new Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). State Department Spokesperson Nauert said, “As a Member of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and as President of the International Republican Institution, Mark has shown his commitment to development programs that produce tangible results.”

Spokesperson Nauert continued, “In his new capacity, Mark will pursue reforms to further increase the Agency’s efficiency and effectiveness of its programs, and we are confident he will help us prioritize America's future development investments so we can ensure every tax dollar advances our country's security and prosperity.”

Secretary Tillerson's Upcoming Travel to the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia

This week, the State Department announced that Secretary Tillerson will travel to Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur August 5 – 9. Secretary Tillerson’s travel reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to further broaden and enhance U.S. economic and security interests in the Asia-Pacific region.  As acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Susan Thornton noted, “We are committed to working with our allies and partners and friends to continue to provide regional security, to promote good governance and respect for the rules-based system, and to advance economic opportunity for the United States.”

While in Manila, Secretary Tillerson will participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Ministerial, the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial. During these meetings, Secretary Tillerson will meet with his counterparts and discuss a range of issues including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counterterrorism. Secretary Tillerson will also travel to Thailand to pay respects to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and engage Thai officials on the enduring U.S.-Thailand partnership and regional issues. In Kuala Lumpur, Secretary Tillerson will meet officials to discuss strengthening cooperation on a range of issues in the 60th year of U.S.-Malaysia bilateral relations.

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.