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.
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.
Secretary Tillerson at the Global @Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ministerial: We are united in our determination to defeat ISIS. It is now our duty to keep taking action that reflects that determination. https://t.co/vvZavG2b6I pic.twitter.com/VId72eC8rA— Department of State (@StateDept) February 14, 2018
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.
Secretary Tillerson: For decades the U.S. & #Jordan have sustained a truly indispensable strategic partnership. We recognize the importance of the partnership by signing a new MOU today -- a signal to the world that our partnership has never been stronger. https://t.co/PxSkoHII5x pic.twitter.com/4fQIlhyIMw— Department of State (@StateDept) February 14, 2018
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.
Secretary Tillerson: The United States considers #Hizballah a terrorist organization. We do not accept any distinction between its political and its military arms. Hizballah’s entanglement in regional conflicts threatens the security of #Lebanon and destabilizes the region. pic.twitter.com/G3fJzb2LGs— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 15, 2018
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.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: "Our relationship with #Turkey is enduring and strategic." The Secretary's remarks addressed the U.S.-Turkey alliance, our shared objectives in #Syria, and the United States' support for democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. pic.twitter.com/bKVXwTkmgt— Department of State (@StateDept) February 16, 2018
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
Deputy Secretary John Sullivan: @POTUS’ FY 2019 budget request proposes $39.3 billion for the @StateDept and @USAID. With this funding level, we will protect Americans at home and overseas by countering the gravest threats to U.S. national security. pic.twitter.com/iQ9bAb5CW6— Department of State (@StateDept) February 12, 2018
.@USAIDMarkGreen: @POTUS' budget request reaffirms that we will always stand with people when disaster strikes or a crisis emerges, because that’s who we are as Americans. We will remain the world’s leader in humanitarian assistance, but we’ll also call on others do their part. pic.twitter.com/6Sfi1KEu4n— Department of State (@StateDept) February 12, 2018
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.
“Ultimately, we must recognize that the Assad regime does not want peace unless it’s peace on their terms – a peace in which every person in Syria who opposes the regime is murdered, tortured, starved, imprisoned, or forced to flee the country.” More here: https://t.co/dJBgYh0O6w pic.twitter.com/LWI4MFyJFQ— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) February 14, 2018
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.
Dr. Mann highlights the U.S. @DiplomacyCenter -- the first museum and education center dedicated to the story of American diplomacy, the history of American foreign policy, and illustrating the importance of American diplomacy for our nation’s security and economic prosperity. pic.twitter.com/DUfsytZb4S— Department of State (@StateDept) February 13, 2018
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.
Happy #LunarNewYear to everyone celebrating around the world! It was my pleasure to talk with @Bingru_Wang and @PhoenixTVHK to share our best wishes for health, peace and prosperity in the #YearoftheDog! pic.twitter.com/Wh29gHIay9— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 16, 2018
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.