This Week at State: February 2, 2018

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This Week at State: February 2, 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:

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. 

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 highlighted the issues of trade, energy cooperation and combating transnational crime. He also address the situations in Venezuela and Cuba

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.” 

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 January 27, Secretary Tillerson gave remarks at a wreath laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument in Poland, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson provides remarks during a wreath laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument in Warsaw, Poland, on January 27, 2018.

“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. 

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.” 

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 

For more information on the Nuclear Posture Review, visit

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. 

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. 

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.

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.