This Week at State: January 12, 2018

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This Week at State: January 12, 2018

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 Previews Vancouver Ministerial on North Korea

On January 11, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Vancouver, Canada, January 15-17, to co-host the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

During an on-the-record briefing on January 11, the Director of the Secretary’s Office of Policy Planning Brian Hook shared additional details about the upcoming ministerial. 

During the briefing, Director Hook said, “The United States and Canada are convening the meeting to demonstrate international commitment to diplomatic solutions to the escalating threat posed by DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The ministerial – the goal of the ministerial is to provide a practical mechanism – mechanisms to exert continued pressure on the Kim regime while demonstrating that diplomatic options remain open and viable.”

United States Welcomes Talks Between South Korea and North Korea on the Winter Olympics

In a statement to the press on January 9,  Spokesperson Nauert welcomed the meeting between the Republic of Korea and North Korea aimed at ensuring a safe, secure, and successful Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 

Spokesperson Nauert noted, “The United States remains in close consultations with ROK officials, who will ensure North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics does not violate the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council over North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

United States Releases Joint Statement with Proliferation Security Initiative Partners in Support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 Enforcement

On January 12, the United States of America along with 16 other members of the Proliferation Security Initiative’s (PSI) Operational Experts Group (OEG) released a joint statement in support of enforcement of UN Security Council Resolutions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“We call on all UN Member States to enforce all elements of applicable UN Security Council Resolutions.  Given our concerted efforts to build our capacities and resolve to act to interdict WMD and related materials, we stand united in our determination to prevent the DPRK from acquiring nuclear and ballistic missile-related technologies, and from engaging in prohibited activities that generate revenue for its illicit WMD program.”

President Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum

On January 11, President Donald J. Trump announced the Presidential Delegation that will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from January 23 to January 26, 2018. Secretary Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green will join the United States’ delegation, which will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Secretary Tillerson Speaks with Foreign Ministers of Norway, Germany, and Saudi Arabia

Secretary Tillerson welcomed Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide to the State Department on January 11. Prior to their meeting, the Secretary commended Norway for being supportive of U.S. efforts to defeat terrorism, the defeat of ISIS, as well as their support for U.S. efforts to send the right messages to North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide prepare to address reporters at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2018.


Secretary Tillerson spoke by phone, on January 11, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. They discussed Iran’s repressive actions against protesters and its destabilizing activities in the Middle East. The German Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary on recent discussions between the E3, EU, and Iran regarding these non-JCPOA issues.

On January 12, Secretary Tillerson hosted Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir for a meeting at the Department of State.

State Department Launches New Travel Advisories for U.S. Citizens

On January 10, 2018, the Department of State launched an improved system to share more clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide with U.S. citizens. Under the new system, every country will have a Travel Advisory, providing levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4. The Travel Advisories for each country replace previous Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. While we will issue an overall Travel Advisory level for every country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. 

Read more about this new and improved travel guidance in this blog entry.

State Department Recognizes National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

During 2018 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the U.S. Department of State joined U.S. federal government partners in recognizing National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11. In an effort to raise awareness of human trafficking and the global impacts of the crime the Department highlighted the work of its TIP Office, who partners with foreign governments, international organizations, other federal agencies, civil society, and the private sector to develop and implement effective strategies to confront modern slavery. 

Stay tuned to DipNote for additional blogs on human trafficking throughout January, and continue to follow @JTIP_State and @StateDept on Twitter as we spotlight ways we are working at home and abroad to #EndTrafficking. 

U.S. Comments on Prosecution of Reuters Reporters in Burma
On January 10, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement on the court decision in Burma to allow prosecution of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under the Official Secrets Act and reiterated the United States’ calls for their release. 

U.S. Calls for Release of Oyub Titiev of Russian NGO "Memorial"
On January 10, Spokesperson Nauert called for the release of the head of the local Chechen branch office of the Russian human rights NGO Memorial, Oyub Titiev following his arrest in Chechnya. 

Secretary Tillerson Swears in a New Class of Civil Servant Employees

On January 12, Secretary Tillerson swore in the 148th Civil Service Orientation Class at the Department of State. Secretary Tillerson said, “You have a diverse background among your class, which is great, because that really strengthens our department as well...I think this really enriches our organization when we have the kind of diversity representation and representation around the country, because we really do project the face of America here at the State Department, and so we represent the face of the American people.” 

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.