This Week at State: January 19, 2018

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This Week at State: January 19, 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:

United States and Canada Co-Host Vancouver Ministerial on North Korea

On January 16, the United States and Canada co-hosted the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. The meeting brought together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In remarks at the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed this common goal, stating that Vancouver attendees are now “joined by the entire international community in saying to the regime in North Korea we cannot and will not accept you as a nuclear state.” 

For more information on the Vancouver Ministerial, check out this DipNote entry.

Secretary Tillerson Outlines Way Forward in Syria

On January 17, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks on the way forward for the U.S. regarding Syria at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies in Stanford, California. In his remarks, the Secretary underscored why it is crucial to the United States’ national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.

Acknowledging Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats, and a major challenge for the United States diplomacy, Secretary Tillerson outlined the United States desires five key end states for Syria.

Secretary Tillerson added, “The Trump administration is implementing a new strategy to achieve these end states. This process largely entails increased diplomatic action on the heels of our ongoing military successes. Our diplomatic efforts will be characterized by stabilization initiatives and a new emphasis on the political solution to the Syrian conflict.”

President Trump Hosts President of Kazakhstan

On January 16, President Donald J. Trump met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan at the White House. In remarks during their meeting, President Trump highlighted the United States economic relationship with Kazakhstan.

In conjunction with visit, the State Department released a fact sheet on the U.S.-Kazakhstan economic relationship.

United States Celebrates Religious Freedom Day

On January 16, the United States commemorated religious freedom day, marking 232 years since the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This statute served as the model for protecting religious liberty that was later enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

At the Department’s press briefing on January 16, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a priority of this Trump administration… Together with our partners both at home and abroad, we will strive for a world where we can all enjoy the freedoms of thought, freedoms of conscience, and freedoms of religion.”

Secretary Tillerson Meets with Foreign Minister of Jordan

On January 18, Secretary Tillerson met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington, DC. The leaders discussed challenges in the Middle East and in Syria.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Participates in UN Security Council Meeting on Afghanistan
On January 19, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to New York to participate in a ministerial-level, United Nations Security Council meeting on “Building Regional Partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a Model to Link Security and Development.” The meeting was chaired by Kazakhstan, which currently holds the Security Council presidency.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan addresses the Security Council meeting on maintenance of international peace and security, with a focus on building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

In remarks to the Security Council, Deputy Secretary Sullivan highlighted the Administration’s South Asia strategy, in which President Trump made it “abundantly clear that solving Afghanistan’s security and development challenges will depend on the commitment of Afghans themselves, alongside the steadfast support of Afghanistan’s regional and international partners. As we move ahead, we must continue to support the principle that an enduring peace for Afghanistan is one that is built, led, and ultimately maintained by the Afghan government and its people.”

Ambassador Haley Participates in UN Security Council Briefings on Nonproliferation and Libya

On January 17, the UN Security Council met to discuss the situation in Libya. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated the United States support for the efforts of Special Representative Salame and the implementation of the UN Action Plan. Ambassador Haley said, “The fact is that after decades of tyranny followed by years of fighting and chaos, the Libyan people deserve a better future. Libya’s political leaders must set aside their personal agendas and come together for the sake of peace. The Libyan people deserve a stable, unified, democratic government, with institutions that are capable of stamping out the abuses of criminal networks and non-state militias.”

On January 18, Ambassador Haley addressed a UN Security Council briefing on focused on establishing confidence building measures to ensure the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Ambassador discussed the threats posed by the North Korean and Iranian regimes, citing North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of repeated resolutions by the Security Council and Iran, who continues to cause instability by providing ballistic missiles to terrorists and militants in violation of UN arms embargoes.

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.