This Week at State: September 29, 2017

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The Harry S. Truman Building, Headquarters of the Department of State

This Week at State: September 29, 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:

Secretary Tillerson Hosts U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue, Travels to China to Meet with Senior Chinese Officials

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong at the U.S. Department of State on September 28, as part of the U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue. Secretary Tillerson was joined in the meeting by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong at the U.S. Department of State on September 28.

The U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue underlined support for an array of cooperative areas in education, social development, science and technology, health, subnational, arts and culture, and environment and conservation. During discussion, Secretary Tillerson pressed China to take steps toward further healthcare sector liberalizations that would allow U.S. companies and health experts to bring to China high quality healthcare facilities and services. The Secretary also noted the importance of adding media as an additional cooperative area for the Social and Cultural Dialogue in 2018. In this spirit, the Secretary advocated for foreign media access to Chinese audiences.

Following the Dialogue in Washington, Secretary Tillerson departed for Beijing where he will meet with senior Chinese officials. During his visit, Secretary Tillerson will discuss a range of issues, including the President’s planned travel to the region, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and trade and investment. Follow Secretary Tillerson’s travel to China here or on the Department’s social media channels.

Secretary Tillerson Announces Ordered Departure of U.S. Personnel in Havana, Travel Warning for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the ordered departure of non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Cuba on September 29. Citing attacks of an unknown nature against Embassy employees over the past several months, Secretary Tillerson underscored, “the health, safety, and well-being of our Embassy community is our greatest concern. We will continue to aggressively investigate these attacks until the matter is resolved.”  Secretary Tillerson also announced a travel warning for U.S. citizens advising U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Cuba.

On September 26, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla at the Department of State to discuss the Secretary’s “profound concerns” regarding the safety and security of U.S. diplomats in Cuba. During the meeting, Secretary Tillerson conveyed the gravity of the situation and underscored the Cuban authorities’ obligations to protect U.S. Embassy staff and their families under the Vienna Convention.

Secretary Tillerson's Meets With Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Cayetano

Secretary Tillerson met with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Peter Cayetano on September 27 to coordinate on the upcoming East Asia Summit and U.S.-ASEAN Summit, as well as to discuss mutual areas of concern such as North Korea, counterterrorism, counternarcotics, rule of law, and maritime security.

United States Underscores Commitment to Refugee Resettlement

In a background briefing on the refugee resettlement cap for fiscal year 2018, the United States underscored its commitment to maintain a leadership role in humanitarian protection through refugee resettlement. Outlining that the United States will continue to be the largest refugee resettlement country in the world by admitting up to 45,000 refugees in fiscal year 2018, a senior U.S. official said, “With this new ceiling, the United States will continue to permanently resettle more refugees than any other country, and we will continue to offer protection to the most vulnerable of those who have been persecuted because of race, ethnicity, political opinion, nationality, religion, or membership in a particular social group.”

United States Does Not Recognize Kurdistan Referendum

In a September 29 release, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated, "The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday. The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq."

In a statement released on September 25, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert expanded on the United States concern regarding the referendum saying, “this step will increase instability and hardships for the Kurdistan region and its people.”

“The United States supports a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq and will continue to seek opportunities to assist Iraqis to fulfill their aspirations within the framework of the constitution.”

– Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert

United States Deeply Troubled by Conviction of Crimean Journalist

In a statement released on September 25, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert called on the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea to vacate the conviction of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Mykola Semena, to allow him to resume his journalistic activity, and to cease their campaign to stifle dissent in Crimea. Department Spokesperson Nauert added, “Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine, and the United States remains steadfast in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

DipNote Celebrates 10 Years

In an entry on September 25, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert commemorated the 10th anniversary of the launch of DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s official blog. 

We here at DipNote want to echo the Spokesperson’s thanks to our readers and followers. After 10 years, we’re still focused on our vision to provide a window into the work of the Department of State and those responsible for developing and implementing our foreign policy. With each read and share, you’ve shown us how much this work matters to you. Thanks for reading.

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.