Irma, North Korea, and Libya: Secretary Tillerson’s Trip to London

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with British Prime Minister May and U.S. Ambassador to the UK
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Wood Johnson

Irma, North Korea, and Libya: Secretary Tillerson’s Trip to London

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelled to London on September 14 for a series of meetings hosted by United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson. In addition to bilateral meetings, Secretaries Tillerson and Johnson were joined by French Government representatives for tri-lateral meetings on Hurricane Irma and North Korea. Secretary Tillerson also participated in a meeting on Libya where the U.S., U.K., and France were also joined by representatives from the governments of Italy, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the United Nations.

Here are some key highlights of the day:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Representatives during a meeting in London on September 14, 2017.

On the Joint Response to Hurricane Irma

Secretary Tillerson thanked the United Kingdom for its kind words in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He stressed that the cooperation between the U.S., U.K., and France in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma has been extraordinary.

"I think all of us set down our own concerns and said what can we do to help each other’s citizens, and we are very thankful for that."

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Secretary Tillerson added that the U.S., U.K., and France are committed to taking that spirit of cooperation into the coordination of the recovery and long process of reconstruction in a way that is beneficial to everyone.

On North Korea

Secretary Tillerson thanked the U.K. for its role in the United Nations Security Council and in its public messaging toward North Korea. He emphasized that together we “send a very strong message to North Korea and the regime in North Korea that their efforts to advance their nuclear weapons programs and the threatening posture that they have taken is not acceptable to any member of the international community.”

Secretary Tillerson also stated that the U.S., U.K., and France discussed how to increase the diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea and relay the message to the North Korean regime that “you need to stand down your program and engage in a dialogue to find a way to a peaceful resolution.”

Government representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, Egypt, and France attend a meeting in London on September 14, 2017.

On Libya

Secretary Tillerson highlighted the productive discussions with his British, French, Italian, Emirati, and Egyptian colleagues on Libya. He stressed the United States goal is to find a way forward in Libya that creates stability and reconciliation, and that restores Libya under a functioning government.

Secretary Tillerson said that the United Nations Special Representative Ghassan Salame’s efforts to advance political reconciliation in Libya have the full support of the United States. He added, “We are all committed to helping the Libyans find the Libyan solution that will lead to their future.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UK Prime Minister Theresa May during a meeting in London on September 14, 2017.

On the U.S.-U.K. Relationship

Following meetings with both British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Johnson, Secretary Tillerson characterized the U.S.-U.K. relationship as “a special relationship,” grounded in a “commitment to action in the achievement of our common goals.” He emphasized areas of mutual interest from North Korea to addressing the threat of Iran in the Middle East. He also highlighted the U.S. and U.K.’s shared interest in finding a solution to the conflict in Syria once the defeat of ISIS is concluded. 

Secretary Tillerson welcomed the opportunity to work closely with counterparts in the U.K. adding, “Please know that you have a steadfast ally in the United States, and we will stand by our ally as Brexit continues to take shape. And we look forward to continuing this long relationship.” 

For full coverage of Secretary Tillerson’s trip to London, click here.

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