This Week at State: December 22, 2017

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This Week at State: December 22, 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:

President Trump Releases National Security Strategy

On December 18, President Trump released a new National Security Strategy (NSS). The strategy sets a positive strategic direction for the United States that will restore America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths. The NSS is a reflection of President Trump’s belief that putting America first is the duty of our government and the foundation for effective U.S. leadership in the world.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement in support of the NSS, noting that the strategy brings to bear all elements of American power to protect our people, generate new economic opportunities, as well as advance our interests and democratic principles.

“The State Department will work closely with other federal agencies and our allies and partners around the world to implement this strategy.”

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

White House Highlights Trump Administration's 2017 Foreign Policy Achievements

The White House released a fact sheet highlighting ways President Trump has fulfilled his promise to put America first by prioritizing the defense of America’s borders at home and its interests abroad.

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration’s National Security Strategy (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Secretary Tillerson Travels to Canada, Announces Ministerial on North Korea

Secretary Tillerson traveled to Ottawa, Canada, December 19, to meet Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and other officials. In a press availability during the trip, Secretary Tillerson underscored both the United States and Canada’s shared objectives to maintain a strong trade relationship, defeat terrorism, and to cooperate on a number of threats around the world, including North Korea. 

While in Ottawa, Secretary Tillerson and Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland announced that the United States and Canada will co-host a major ministerial meeting on the security and stability of the Korean peninsula. The mid-January meeting will demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs, as well as address next steps in the pressure campaign against the North Korean regime.

U.S. Special Envoy Highlights 2017 Gains in Fight to Defeat ISIS, the Road Ahead

On December 21, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk discussed the United States’ and the Global Coalition’s efforts this year.

The Special Envoy commented on the loss of territory that has been under ISIS control, particularly the groundbreaking battle that led to the liberation Raqqa in Syria due to the acceleration of the D-ISIS campaign.

Special Envoy McGurk also underscored the coalition’s continuing efforts to address the foreign terrorist fighters as well as efforts to counter their finances and messaging.

United States Supports United Nations Action on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Counterterrorism

On December 21, Secretary Tillerson commented on the adoption of a new UN resolution that will help Member States detect and counter the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, especially those returning from the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria.

“The successful adoption of UNSCR 2396 demonstrates the United States’ unwavering commitment to the complete defeat of ISIS. It also shows that the Security Council—along with the 66 countries that co-sponsored the resolution—remains firmly, unquestionably united in the face of the common threat of transnational terrorism. We look forward to working with countries, UN bodies, civil society, and the private sector to implement this groundbreaking resolution.”

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

State Department Officials Share Update on the Situation in Yemen

During a press briefing at the Department on December 21, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Timothy Linderking provided an update on the situation in Yemen.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Linderking’s comments followed Saudi Arabia’s announcement, this week, that the Saudi-led Coalition will open the Yemeni port of Hudaydah to all humanitarian and commercial goods, including fuel, and move cranes funded by the United States to Hudaydah. He also underscored that as the largest humanitarian donor to the people of Yemen, the United States remains committed to alleviating the dire human suffering in Yemen.

United States Vetoes UN Security Council Resolution on Jerusalem

Prior to a United Nations Security Council meeting on Jerusalem on December 21, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered remarks addressing the United Nations’ hostility and disproportionate focus on Israel.

The Ambassador defended the United States’ recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its Embassy there.

United States Implements Magnitsky Human Rights and Rule of Law Accountability Acts

This week, the State Department submitted to Congress the fifth annual report on the U.S. government’s actions to implement the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

“The Department is committed to protecting and promoting human rights and combating corruption with all of the tools at our disposal. Today’s actions advance our values and promote the security of the United States, our allies, and our partners. We must lead by example, and today’s announcement of sanctions demonstrates the United States will continue to pursue tangible and significant consequences for those who commit serious human rights abuse and engage in corruption.”

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Statement on Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

Troika Welcomes Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities in South Sudan
On December 21, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway issued a joint statement congratulating parties to the conflict in South Sudan for signing the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians, and Humanitarian Access in Addis Ababa and for “their willingness to compromise for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.”

United States Condemns Houthi Missile Strike Against Saudi Arabia
Spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the December 19 Houthi missile attack on Riyadh. 

We remain deeply disturbed by aggressive Houthi actions supported by Iran’s provision of advanced weapons, which threaten regional security and prolong the Yemen conflict. The United States calls on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to stop arming and enabling the Houthis’ violent actions against Yemen’s neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.”

- Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert

United States and India Host First Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue

Following the first U.S.-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue, which occurred December 18-19 in New Delhi, the United States and India released a joint statement

“The establishment of this mechanism reflects shared U.S. and Indian commitments to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats. The U.S. and Indian delegations exchanged information on procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals through domestic and international mechanisms. They also discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations. The United States will host the second U.S.-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue in 2018.”

United States Applauds Conclusion of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Secretary Tillerson congratulated the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on its many achievements in a December 21 statement. The Secretary said, “We applaud the Tribunal’s record, which includes indicting 161 senior leaders of regional governments, militaries, and paramilitaries for their roles in atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.” 

The Secretary added, “The pursuit of justice in the Balkans is not over. We call on national authorities to resolve remaining cases in their jurisdictions and to cooperate with one another and the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to that end.” 

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