This Week at State: November 3, 2017

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This Week at State: November 3, 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 on New York Terrorist Attack

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the October 31st terrorist attack in New York City on November 1. “We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims,” Secretary Tillerson said.

Secretary Tillerson continued, “We welcome and appreciate the strong coalition of all partners in this fight against terrorism globally, and we will continue that fight until we can eliminate this threat to all American citizens and our friends and allies around the world as well.”

Secretary Tillerson Addresses Congress on Authorized Use of Military Force

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 30 on the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF.) In his opening remarks, Secretary Tillerson outlined ways the current AUMF is used to authorize U.S. action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as campaigns against the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other associated forces.

Secretary Tillerson provided three recommendations, should Congress decide to write new AUMF legislation. First, new AUMF authorities must be in place prior to or simultaneous with the repeal of old ones. Second, any new authorization should not be time-constrained. Third, a new AUMF must not be geographically restricted. Secretary Tillerson concluded saying, “The United States must retain the proper legal authorities to ensure that nothing restricts or delays our ability to respond effectively and rapidly to terrorist threats to the United States.”

Secretary Tillerson Comments on Capture of Benghazi Attack Suspect

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on October 30 regarding the capture of Mustafa al-Imam.

“I am deeply grateful to the U.S. military, law enforcement, and intelligence community for their efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The Department of State family continues to mourn the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods, and we will spare no effort to ensure that justice is served for these dedicated Americans and public servants. I spoke with some of their family members to underscore the U.S. government’s unwavering support.”

– Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Secretary Tillerson Meets with Russian Ambassador

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov on October 31 at the Department of State.

In a readout of the meeting, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the two parties discussed the need to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and fully implement the Minsk agreements, the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the United States’ continued commitment to the Geneva process, countering the threat posed by North Korea and the prospects for improving the U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship.

Secretary Tillerson Meets with Belgian Foreign Minister

On November 1, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Belgian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders. The two leaders discussed the October 31st terrorist attack in New York City and other topics of mutual interest.

Secretary Tillerson and Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders address reporters in Washington, DC.

Announcement of Secretary Tillerson’s Travel to Asia

On November 2, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would accompany President Donald Trump on his travels to Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Secretary Tillerson will also make an additional stop in Burma. The Secretary’s six-country trip demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to our alliances and partnerships in the Asia Pacific and highlights our ongoing engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) on regional issues of mutual interest and concern.

Secretary Tillerson Announces Additional Security Assistance Support for Sahel Region

On October 30, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a United States Government pledge of up to $60 million to support the G5 Sahel Joint Force’s counterterrorism efforts.

“This money will bolster our regional partners in their fight to ensure security and stability in the face of ISIS and affiliated groups and other terrorist networks. This is a fight we must win, and these funds will play a key role in achieving that mission.”

– Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

State Department Delegation Visits Burma and Bangladesh

A Department of State delegation, led by Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Simon Henshaw, visited Burma and Bangladesh, October 29-November 4.

In Burma, the delegation met with various actors inside and outside government to discuss the current state of the crisis in Rakhine State, to promote protection for persons affected by the violence and to emphasize accountability for reported human rights abuses. They also urged unhindered humanitarian access to affected communities in Rakhine State, and protection mechanisms to enable individuals to voluntarily return in safety and with dignity.

Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert joined the delegation in Bangladesh, where they visited affected communities in Cox’s Bazar District in southeastern Bangladesh to hear the stories of the people who have fled Rakhine State, assess the impact of the emergency humanitarian response, identify gaps in assistance, and advise on ways to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

United States Urges Continued Dialogue in Northern Ireland

On November 1, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed the United States’ regret that the main parties in Northern Ireland have not been able to reach an agreement to form a regional power-sharing government. Spokesperson Nauert added, “We urge all parties to continue dialogue in order to reach a viable power-sharing deal and reestablish the Northern Ireland Executive as soon as possible.”

United States Comments on Political Transition in Kurdistan

On October 31, the United States commended the decision of Masoud Barzani not to seek an additional term as President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the vote of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament to distribute presidential authorities to other Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) institutions.

In the statement, the United States also called on the Government of Iraq and the KRG under its new leadership to work urgently to resolve pending issues under the Iraqi constitution. We have been encouraged by the security dialogue that has taken place in recent days, and call for an end to all confrontations and clashes.

United States Supports International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

On November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert underscored the United States’ dedication to promoting a free, professional, and independent press abroad, and to advocating for accountability for those who would undermine a free press with threats, intimidation, and violence.

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