This Week at State: September 8, 2017

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This Week at State: September 8, 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 Department Response to Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma moves through the Caribbean, the Department of State has issued an Emergency Alert warning U.S. citizens to avoid travel to The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and parts of the Eastern Caribbean. 

The San Juan and Miami Passport Agencies are closed until further notice. The U.S. Embassies in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and The Bahamas have also issued Travel Warnings for U.S. citizens due to the storm’s projected impact.

During the State Department Press Briefing on September 7, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert outlined the State Department’s response to Hurricane Irma, including our emergency assistance to American citizens caught in its path. 

U.S. citizens who are overseas and in need of assistance in areas affected by Hurricane Irma should email IrmaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.  Additional information for U.S. citizens affected by Hurricane Irma can be found here.

Secretary Tillerson Hosts U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah at the Department of State on September 8 for the U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. 

This Strategic Dialogue deepens our close relationship, grows bonds between our people, and enhances practical cooperation for the security and prosperity of both of our nations.

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

During the dialogue, the Department of State and the Kuwaiti Government signed two memorandums of understanding, the first to promote collaboration in higher education, and the second to encourage additional bilateral investment in both countries.

In his remarks, Secretary Tillerson also acknowledged the Kuwaiti Government’s leadership and efforts to help bring about a settlement to the Gulf Cooperation Council dispute, including Egypt, as well as Kuwait’s contributions to regional security and humanitarian initiatives. 

United States Reaction to Latest North Korean Nuclear Test

In her remarks at an Emergency United Nations Security Council Briefing on North Korea on September 4, Ambassador Nikki Haley stated “enough is enough,” the time has come to “exhaust all diplomatic means” and to “adopt the strongest possible measures against North Korea.” 

Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert also highlighted the importance of collective diplomatic action during her interview with Fox & Friends on September 4. Spokesperson Nauert highlighted, “The world is in agreement.  We want the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are not going to give up on the diplomatic option.” 

On September 6, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on the phone with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to discuss recent actions taken by North Korea. During the call, Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Secretary Johnson condemned the North Korea’s most recent nuclear test and discussed the need for increased pressure on the North Korean government, including through a robust new UN Security Council resolution. Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Secretary Johnson agreed on the need for all countries, including China, to take action to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

Secretary Tillerson Hosts Moroccan Foreign Minister

On September 7, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita for a meeting at the Department of State.

United States Expresses Deep Concern Regarding Situation in Burma’s Rakhine State

During the State Department Press Briefing on September 7, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed the United States’ deep concern regarding the troubling situation in Burma’s Rakhine state.  Spokesperson Nauert urged all in Burma, including in the Rakhine state, to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions in that area, and called on authorities to facilitate immediate access to affected communities in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. 

United States Announces New Sanctions on South Sudan Officials

Citing the financial sanctions against Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, Michael Makuei Lueth, Paul Malong Awan, and three companies connected to Riak Rengu announced by the Department of Treasury on September 6, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert underscored that the United States will impose consequences on those who expand the conflict and derail peace efforts in South Sudan.

Spokesperson Nauert added “the United States stands ready to impose other measures against those responsible for undermining the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan,” and “the United States is committed to increasing scrutiny on those who enrich themselves through corruption while the South Sudanese people suffer through economic hardship and a dire humanitarian crisis.” 

Ambassador Haley: Venezuelan Address ‘Makes A Mockery’ of UN Human Rights Council

Responding to news reports that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza Montserrat will address the UN Human Rights Council next week, Ambassador Nikki Haley made the following statement:

“The fact that Venezuela is even a member of the UN Human Rights Council shows the desperate need for HRC reform. Having the Venezuelan foreign minister address the Council makes a mockery of the institution. The Maduro regime continues to rob the Venezuelan people of their freedom and their prosperity. Rather than welcoming the Venezuelan foreign minister, the Human Rights Council should be denouncing his government.” 

United States Emphasizes Commitment to Pacific Region

On September 7, Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton hosted a roundtable with the heads of delegation for 16 Pacific Island countries during the Pacific Islands Forum, Forum Dialogue Partners (PIF FDP). Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton emphasized continued U.S. commitment to the security, prosperity, and stability of the Pacific region.

On September 6, the U.S. Department of State released a new fact sheet on U.S. engagement in the Pacific. The fact sheet outlines the many ways the United States partners with the Pacific Islands to tackle global and regional challenges, including promoting sustainable growth and prosperity, ensuring regional stability, addressing environmental challenges, and strengthening our people-to-people ties.

U.S.-EU Satellite Data Arrangement Aids in Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma Efforts

In a press release published on September 6, the Department of State highlighted its important collaboration with the European Commission to allow for the rapid activation of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) over the Texas and Louisiana coasts to generate up-to-date, satellite-based maps of the flooding due to Hurricane Harvey. With Hurricane Irma projected to reach the Caribbean Islands and the East Coast of the United States, the delivery of EMS products will shift to addressing the response to that major storm. In combination with U.S. satellite data, these maps are critical tools for relief operations by U.S. federal, state, and local disaster responders.

For more information on this important collaboration, check out this DipNote entry.

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

Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.com.