This Week at State: February 23, 2018

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This Week at State: February 23, 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:

U.S. Announces Largest North Korean Sanctions Package Targeting Shipping and Trading Companies and Vessels

On February 23, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche to date, aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels to further isolate the regime and advance the U.S. maximum pressure campaign. This action targets one individual, 27 entities, and 28 vessels located, registered, or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama, and Comoros. The Department of Treasury, along with the U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Coast Guard, also issued an advisory alerting the public to the significant sanctions risks to those continuing to enable shipments of goods to and from North Korea. 

Secretary Tillerson Meets Irish Deputy Prime Minister Coveney in Washington, DC

On February 23, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Trade Minister Simon Coveney, at the Department of State.

United States and Libya Sign Cultural Property Protection Agreement

On February 23, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs I. Steven Goldstein and Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Under Secretary for Political Affairs Lutfi Almughrabi signed a landmark bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cultural property protection.

As part of the ongoing cooperation between the United States and Libya’s Government of National Accord, the United States is imposing import restrictions on categories of archaeological material representing Libya’s cultural heritage dating from 12,000 B.C. through 1750 A.D. and Ottoman ethnological material from Libya dating from 1551 to 1911 A.D. Restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage and trafficking and are among the many ways the United States is combating the financing of terrorism and disrupting the global market in illegal antiquities. 

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia, and Belgium

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia, and Belgium this week.

On February 16, Deputy Secretary Sullivan traveled to Germany, where he led the State Department delegation to the Munich Security Conference. The Deputy Secretary participated in a nuclear security and arms control panel discussion with foreign government officials and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to global nuclear security.

The Deputy Secretary traveled to Rome from February 18-20, where he met with senior Italian officials to discuss cooperation on priorities in Ukraine, Libya, the fight to defeat ISIS, the Sahel, as well as human rights and religious freedom 

On February 20, the Deputy Secretary delivered remarks at the American Studies Center on the U.S.-Italian relationship and our cooperation on security issues around the world.

On February 21, Deputy Secretary Sullivan traveled to Kyiv to meet with President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Groysman, and Foreign Minister Klimkin. 

On February 22, Deputy Secretary Sullivan will travel to Riga where he will meet with senior Latvian officials to reaffirm NATO’s Article 5 commitment and discuss various other economic, investment issues, and bilateral priorities.

Finally, on February 23, he visited Brussels to participate in the G5 Sahel Donors Conference and discuss continued support for development, security, and political issues in the Sahel.

State Department Addresses Escalating Violence in Syria

On February 21, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley released a statement on the attacks on civilians that are occuring in eastern Ghouta.

 U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs Kelly Currie reinforced this message in remarks at a briefing at the UN Security Council on February 22.

During a briefing to members of the press on February 22, Spokesperson Nauert also commented on the escalating violence in the Damascus suburbs of East Ghouta.

State Department Announces Fulbright Top Producing Institutions

The U.S. Department of State announced that the lists of more than 150 U.S. higher education institutions that sent the most Fulbright U.S. Students and Scholars abroad in academic year 2017-2018 are now available. The lists highlight the Fulbright Program’s strong institutional diversity and impact on American communities.The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, compiles the lists, which are organized by Carnegie Classification.

State Department Observes Fourth Anniversary of Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity

In a press statement on February 19, Spokesperson Nauert commented on the fourth anniversary of Ukraine’s European choice,

“Four years ago, Ukrainians from all walks of life and all regions of the country came together on the Maydan, Kyiv's central square, to demand their government recognize the choice of the citizens of Ukraine to join Europe. Scores of Ukrainians—the “Heavenly Hundred”—gave their lives on the Maydan for the dream of a better Ukraine. The United States will continue to stand by Ukraine as it faces ongoing Russian aggression, which has claimed over 10,000 lives and displaced more than 1.6 million Ukrainians.”

-Spokesperson Nauert 

State Department Addresses State of Emergency in Maldives

On February 20, Spokesperson Nauert released a press statement addressing the situation in the Maldives.

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.