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 Delivers State of the Union Address
On January 30th, President Donald J. Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. In his remarks, President Trump addressed several foreign policy objectives, from the campaign to defeat ISIS to North Korea and Iran.
"As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad." For more highlights from President Donald J. Trump's first State of the Union Address, go to https://t.co/dqbqnsUroC. #SOTU pic.twitter.com/tAOvXcbTS2— Department of State (@StateDept) January 31, 2018
Read more about the State of the Union Address in this DipNote blog entry.
Secretary Tillerson Outlines U.S. Engagement in the Western Hemisphere
In a speech at the University of Texas-Austin on February 1, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined the United States’ three pillars for engagement in the Western Hemisphere: economic growth, security, and democratic governance.
Secretary Tillerson at @UTAustin: Today, I want to focus on three pillars of engagement to further the cause of freedom throughout our region in 2018 and beyond: economic growth, security, and democratic governance. pic.twitter.com/NsPPa3Zqgi— Department of State (@StateDept) February 1, 2018
Secretary Tillerson Travels to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica
Secretary Tillerson traveled to Mexico City on February 1 and 2, where he met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, and other senior Mexican officials to discuss the U.S.-Mexico partnership on a range of bilateral, regional, and global priorities.
In a joint press availability with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Secretary Tillerson highlighted that from security to economic prosperity, “when the United States, Canada and Mexico can work together, and when we are unified in our positions and our voice, we have significant influence on events not only in our hemisphere, but also elsewhere.”
Secretary Tillerson with @lvidegaray and @cafreeland: Our three countries are connected…I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our economic relationships. #Canada & #Mexico rank as the 1st or 2nd largest export market for 42 U.S. states & support nearly 3 million U.S. jobs. pic.twitter.com/qM0jQkZmYR— Department of State (@StateDept) February 2, 2018
From Mexico, the Secretary will continue his trip to Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Jamaica. You can follow along with his trip here.
Secretary Tillerson Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland
“On behalf of the American people, I’m honored today to recognize, along with our Polish friends, and commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.”
“As we mark this day in solemn remembrance, let us repeat the words of our own commitment: Never again. Never again.”
- Secretary Tillerson
The ceremony was part of Secretary Tillerson’s trip to Poland, where he met with senior Polish officials to discuss a range of issues in the strong U.S.-Poland bilateral relationship, including global challenges, regional security, and economic prosperity.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to Iraq and Afghanistan
On January 27- 29, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Iraq to participate in the fifth U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee and for meetings with senior Iraqi government officials. The Deputy Secretary also traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he met with President Ghani, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah, and other government officials on January 29- 30.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan in #Kabul: This is an important year for #Afghanistan and I’m optimistic that the country is making great strides on the road to peace and development. I’m optimistic that our cooperation is making a difference. Read full remarks: https://t.co/65tBcl5N8w pic.twitter.com/JpvadMVUlu— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 31, 2018
During the Department Press Briefing on February 1, Deputy Secretary Sullivan provided a read-out of his trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, saying “It was an important opportunity for me to reaffirm to those countries [Iraq and Afghanistan] the United States’ commitment to strengthening our partnership with each of them, and our commitment to bringing enduring peace and prosperity to them.”
Secretary Tillerson Hosts Inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue
On January 30, the governments of the United States and Qatar held the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. In his remarks, Secretary Tillerson underscored the importance of the United States' cooperation with Qatar saying, “Qatar is a strong partner and a longtime friend of the United States. We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship and hope the talks today deepen our strategic ties.”
Secretary Tillerson: #Qatar is a strong partner and a long-time friend of the United States. We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship. In today's sessions, we will discuss important areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, security, counterterrorism, energy and aviation. pic.twitter.com/WrY9R6UDIF— Department of State (@StateDept) January 30, 2018
For a full recap of the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, check out this DipNote blog entry.
United States Announces 2018 Nuclear Posture Review
Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon joined Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette on February 2for a press briefing on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.
“The 2018 NPR highlights the Trump Administration’s commitment to both the long-term goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and the requirement that the United States have modern, flexible, and resilient nuclear capabilities to ensure U.S. security and that of our allies and partners until such a time as nuclear weapons can be eliminated from the world.”
– Under Secretary Shannon
Under Secretary Tom Shannon: The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review highlights the Trump administration’s commitment to both the long-term goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and the requirement that the United States have modern, flexible, and resilient nuclear capabilities. pic.twitter.com/enQGDSYtmJ— Department of State (@StateDept) February 2, 2018
For more information on the Nuclear Posture Review, visit https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0218_npr/.
Preparations for a Safe and Secure 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games
In a January 31 briefing on the preparations for a safe and secure 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein and Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff highlighted the Department of State’s role in ensuring safety and security during the Games.
“As we do with all Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Department of State, led by our Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is working hard to ensure the safety and security of not just the official U.S. Government delegation, but the athletes from Team USA and American spectators, members of the media, and corporate sponsors.”
- Under Secretary Goldstein
Check out this DipNote blog entry for information for U.S. citizens traveling to South Korea for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
United States Implements Arms Restrictions on South Sudan
In a statement released on February 2nd, the Department of State announced that it is implementing restrictions on the export of defense articles and defense services into South Sudan.
The U.S. is appalled by the continuing violence in #SouthSudan creating one of #Africa’s worst #humanitarian crises. @StateDept announces restrictions on export of defense articles & services into South Sudan. We will not stand by as innocent S. Sudanese civilians are murdered. pic.twitter.com/AfRT6HOSDj— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 2, 2018
United States Expresses Grave Concern Over Recent Events in Kenya
In a statement on February 1, the United States expressed its grave concern over the recent self-“inauguration” by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and the Government of Kenya’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media.
“We again urge Kenyan leaders and citizens to begin a national conversation to build cohesion and address long-standing issues.”
- Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert
United States Makes Statement Regarding Holocaust Legislation in Poland
On January 31, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement expressing concern about draft legislation in Poland regarding crimes committed during the Holocaust.
We are concerned draft legislation in Poland regarding crimes committed during the Holocaust could undermine free speech. We all must be careful not to inhibit discussion on the Holocaust. We encourage Poland to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact. pic.twitter.com/4pnSrIZHKI— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 1, 2018
State Department Celebrates Black History Month
February marks National African American History Month in the United States. In observance of African American History Month, we are highlighting African-American individuals who dedicated their lives to public service and broke barriers to accomplish U.S. diplomatic history.
Later this month, the U.S. Diplomacy Center will host a special program exploring the diplomatic careers of two 19th century prominent African Americans who served as U.S. ministers to Haiti: Ebenezer Bassett, America’s first African-American diplomat, and Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, writer, activist, civil servant, and diplomat.
Check out this blog entry for more information.
State Department Reacts to Under Secretary Shannon’s Intent to Retire
On February 1, Secretary Tillerson and colleagues across the State Department reacted to the announcement that Under Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. intends to retire and offered him congratulations and best wishes. Previously Ambassador Shannon served as Counselor of the Department. He is only the seventh Foreign Service Officer to hold the position of Counselor since World War II, and the first in 32 years. He is a Career Ambassador in the Senior Foreign Service of the United States.
“Tom has served his country at home and abroad. At each post, he has also served his colleagues. Tom exhibits a devotion to service that has and shall continue to inspire State Department colleagues.”
– Secretary Tillerson
Under Secretary Shannon will continue until a successor is named.
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.