This Week at State: March 2, 2018

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This Week at State: March 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:

State Department Announces Secretary Tillerson will travel to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria, March 6-13

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Secretary Rex Tillerson will travel to N’Djamena, Chad; Djibouti, Djibouti; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria, March 6-13, 2018. During the Department’s press briefing on March 1, Spokesperson Nauert discussed the Secretary’s planned meetings and stops during what will be his first official trip to Africa as Secretary of State.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Addresses White House Summit on Opioids

On March 1, the White House hosted an Opioid Summit to discuss Administration-wide efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Members of President Trump’s Administration joined the Summit and detailed the actions they are undertaking to confront the opioid crisis on all possible fronts. The Administration’s efforts to address drug addiction and opioid trafficking are focused on education and prevention, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement and interdiction. Deputy Secretary John Sullivan delivered remarks during a panel discussion focused on the latter issue-set, alongside Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

State Department Hosts Conference on Mobilizing Law Enforcement Efforts to Defeat ISIS

The Department of State, in cooperation with INTERPOL and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, hosted an International Conference on Mobilizing Law Enforcement Efforts to Defeat ISIS in Washington, DC, on February 27-28, 2018. The conference brought together senior-level justice and law enforcement officials, and their diplomatic counterparts responsible for counterterrorism, from approximately 90 countries and organizations.

U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales delivered remarks at the conference, underscoring the importance of mobilizing justice and law enforcement agencies around the world to neutralize ISIS’s other incarnations.

UN Security Council Convenes to Address the Situation Syria

On February 24, United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to adopt UNSC Resolution 2401 calling for a ceasefire in Syria. Following the vote, Ambassador Nikki Haley delivered remarks urging the ceasefire in the resolution be implemented immediately and calling on the Assad regime and its allies to stop the assault on eastern Ghouta and to allow food and medicine to reach innocent civilians affected by the crisis.

On February 28, the UN Security council met again to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria. Ambassador Kelley Currie called on all parties to commit to the ceasefire. Referring to the UNSC’s adoption of Resolution 2041, Ambassador Currie said, “On Saturday, we said that the only way to restore the credibility of this Council is to make the ceasefire a reality. Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime have not complied with this Council’s demand, and they have not silenced their guns. Unless we take action, they will stop at nothing to destroy eastern Ghouta, and we will yet again fail to help the Syrian people.”

Under Secretary Shannon Travels to Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. traveled to Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile to underscore long-standing U.S. support for bilateral priorities and reaffirm U.S. engagement to promote a safe, prosperous, and democratic hemisphere.

In Quito, Ecuador on February 27, Under Secretary Shannon met with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to discuss the strengthening of the bilateral relationship and expanded collaboration in areas of mutual interest. 

On February 28, the Under Secretary traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, where he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Vice President Oscar Naranjo to discuss the U.S. partnership with Colombia to combat narcotics trafficking and transnational crime, support sustainable peace, and improve regional security.

On March 1, Under Secretary Shannon, with U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ricky Waddell, co-led the U.S. delegation to the United States-Colombia High Level Dialogue, where they underscored initiatives to achieve increased stability, prosperity, and opportunities for the citizens of both our countries.

Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon (second from the right), flanked by Political-Economic Counselor Patrick Ventrell (far left), Special Assistant to the Under Secretary Loreli Synder (second from left) and U.S. Ambassador to Chile Carol Perez (right) poses for a photo with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (center) before their meeting at La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile, March 2, 2018.

On March 2, Under Secretary Shannon met with President Michelle Bachelet and Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz to discuss the United States’ strong partnership with Chile on bilateral and regional efforts to advance security, prosperity, and democratic governance.

U.S. Department of State Hosts World Wildlife Day Event to Highlight Threats to Big Cats

In honor of World Wildlife Day, marked annually March 3, the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) hosted a “Big Cats and their Habitats” roundtable discussion at the U.S. Department of State. The event, which occured on March 1, convened diplomats from nations where big cats are found in the Americas, Africa, and Asia; U.S. government officials; international organizations; and representatives from NGOs and scientific institutions. Discussions focused on how global conservation efforts and innovative solutions can better protect big cat populations in the future.  

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.