This Week at State: February 16, 2018

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This Week at State: February 16, 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: 

Secretary Tillerson Travels to Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Cairo, Egypt, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Amman, Jordan, Beirut, Lebanon, and Ankara, Turkey, February 11–16. 

In Egypt, Secretary Tillerson met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to discuss the U.S.-Egypt partnership and coordination on key regional issues.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, Egypt on February 12, 2018.

In Kuwait, Secretary Tillerson led the U.S. delegation to the Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The Secretary and his counterparts discussed how the 75-member Global Coalition can ensure an enduring defeat for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while sharpening the Coalition’s focus on denying ISIS’s global ambitions. 

In Kuwait, the Secretary also delivered remarks at the Iraqi Reconstruction Conference Session on Private Sector Engagement, an event which showcased private sector investment opportunities and international support for Iraq, and highlighted U.S.-Kuwait relations in a joint press availability with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah.

In Jordan, Secretary Tillerson met with His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein and Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi and signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral assistance, underscoring the enduring strength of the U.S.-Jordan relationship and highlighting collaboration on key regional issues such as the ongoing crisis in Syria. 

In Lebanon, Secretary Tillerson met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. During his visit, Secretary Tillerson emphasized U.S. support for the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Armed Forces, as well as U.S. concerns about the destabilizing actions of Hizballah. 

In Turkey, Secretary Tillerson met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu. During his visit, Secretary Tillerson emphasized the enduring and strategic relationship between the United States and Turkey, and pledged to resolve outstanding issues in the bilateral relationship in a joint statement

For full information on the Secretary’s trip, check out this trip page.

State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development Present FY 2019 Budget Request

On February 12, President Trump requested $39.3 billion for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) budget. Secretary Tillerson released a statement on the budget request.

“This budget focuses resources on national security at home and abroad, on economic development that contributes to the growth of our economy, and on renewed efforts to modernize the operations of both the State Department and USAID for greater effectiveness. It requests the resources necessary to advance peace and security, and respond to global crises, while prioritizing the efficient use of taxpayer resources.”

-        Secretary Tillerson 

State Department and USAID Release Joint Strategic Plan

On February 13, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) published their FY 2018-2022 Joint Strategic Plan (JSP), which conveys Secretary Tillerson’s and Administrator Green’s vision for foreign policy and development, and will guide strategic planning of foreign policy and development efforts, and shape the core of progress and accountability reports.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Leads Delegation to Munich Security Conference

On February 16, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan led the State Department delegation to the Munich Security Conference. During the conference, Deputy Secretary Sullivan participated in a nuclear security and arms control panel discussion with foreign government officials and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to global nuclear security. While in Munich, he also held bilateral meetings with officials from Germany and other countries.

State Department Comments on the Importance of Defending Democracy in Venezuela

On February 14, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert commented on the decision of decision of Peru, as the host of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to withdraw its invitation to President Maduro of Venezuela. Peru’s decision, Spokesperson Nauert noted in a statement to the press, was made with the support of the Lima Group, which upheld the high democratic standard for Summit participation.

“The United States welcomes the firm statement from the Lima Group rejecting the unilateral decision by the Venezuelan regime to hold elections April 22. We urge the National Electoral Council to set a new electoral calendar in compliance with the 1999 Constitution and in consultation with the National Assembly.”

-        Department Spokesperson Nauert

United States Addresses UN Security Council Meetings on Syria and Burma

On February 14, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations addressed a UN Security Council meeting on Syria. In her remarks she discussed efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria and the escalating situation on the ground. 

On February 13, Ambassador Haley delivered remarks at a UN Security Council meeting on the atrocities occurring in Burma. Ambassador Haley underscored the need for unhindered media access and called on the Secretary-General to quickly appoint a Special Envoy for Burma. Ambassador Haley also called on the Burmese government to allow a UN fact-finding mission and the Special Rapporteur into the country. “Without the media and UN personnel in Burma to shed light on the crimes being committed, there is no hope for justice for the victims,” she said. 

State Department Recognizes Third Anniversary of the Signing of the Minsk Package of Measures

In a statement to the press on February 13, Spokesperson Nauert commented on the third anniversary of the signing of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements and Russia's continued disregard for its commitments under the Minsk agreements‎. 

“Working closely with France and Germany, the United States continues to urge the Russian government to cease its aggression in Ukraine. The United States takes this opportunity to reiterate that our sanctions will remain in place until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements. Our separate Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.”

-        Department Spokesperson Nauert 

State Department Commemorates United States’ First African American Diplomats

On February 13, Dr. Alison Mann of U.S. Diplomacy Center, delivered remarks at the Department’s Press Briefing in advance of a special program the center hosted to commemorate two of our nation’s first African American diplomats: Ebenezer Bassett,  America’s first African American diplomat and Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, writer, activist, civil servant, and diplomat. 

On February 14, in recognition of African American History Month and the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’s birthday, the United States Diplomacy Center hosted a special program exploring the diplomatic careers of Bassett and Douglass, both who served as U.S. ministers to Haiti.

State Department Hosts Annual HBCU Foreign Policy Conference

On February 16, the Department of State hosted its ninth annual HBCU Foreign Policy Conference, bringing together students and faculty from U.S. academic institutions with a range of foreign affairs professionals for discussions on key foreign policy issues and career opportunities.

State Department Recognizes the Lunar New Year

Secretary Tillerson wished people around the world good health, peace, and prosperity on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, in a statement on February 14. 

“Let us endeavor to continue to foster closer cooperation, promote greater understanding, and build a better world for each other and for our children. We hope that the Year of the Dog will bring even greater success and opportunity for all.”

- Secretary Tillerson

Department Spokesperson Nauert also extended her best wishes for the Lunar New Year. 

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.