This Week at State: March 9, 2018

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This Week at State: March 9, 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 Kicks Off First Official Trip to Africa: Makes First Stops in Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia

Secretary Tillerson kicked off his first official trip to Africa this week, during which he will visit Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria through March 13.

On March 9, Secretary Tillerson arrived in Kenya where he engaged in meetings with Kenyan government officials on our shared  political, security, and economic interests in East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

On March 9, the Secretary visited Djibouti and met with Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf to discuss a number of shared security challenges.

While in Djibouti the Secretary commented on talks with North Korea.

On March 8, the Secretary visited Ethiopia where he met with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu, and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to further our partnerships with the governments and people of Africa.

Secretary Tillerson Delivers Remarks on U.S.-Africa Relations

On March 6, before embarking on his first official visit to Sub-Saharan Africa, Secretary Tillerson, delivered remarks about the United States’ relationship with Africa at George Mason University. Secretary Tillerson underscored that the United States’ security and economic prosperity are linked with Africa’s like never before and said, “As we look ahead, this Administration seeks to deepen our partnerships in Africa, with an aim of making African countries more resilient and more self-sufficient.”

The Secretary discussed multiple priority areas of engagement – trade and investment, good governance, respect for human rights, combating terrorism and instability – and underscored that each has the same guiding principle in mind -- to help African countries build the capacity to take care of their people.

United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for African Countries Facing Severe Food Insecurity

On March 6, Secretary Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, where millions are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought.

With this new funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to help vulnerable populations, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid. Additionally, the funding supports safe drinking water programs, emergency health care and hygiene programs to treat and prevent the spread of disease, and reunification of families separated by conflict.

State Department Celebrates International Women’s Day

On March 8th the State Department joined the international community in commemorating International Women’s Day. Secretary Tillerson released a statement pledging to ensure progress in the effort for greater gender equality continues.

During the Department’s press briefing on March 8, the U.S Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., spoke about progress that the administration has made in supporting countries – particularly on the African continent – in combatting HIV and AIDS.

Secretary Tillerson Comments on the Signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership

On March 9, Secretary Tillerson released a statement on the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership in which he underscored that among core principles of the Trump Administration’s economic policy are protecting American jobs, ensuring fairness and reciprocity in trade relationships, and advancing America’s international economic competitiveness.

“The Administration is studying how the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will affect American workers and America’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region. The United States values its trade relationships with each of the signatories to the CPTPP and looks forward to engaging them on ways to strengthen and expand trade on the basis of fairness and reciprocity.”

-Secretary Tillerson

State Department Comments on Afghan Peace Talks

On March 5,during a background briefing with members of the press, Ambassador Alice Wells, the Senior Bureau Official in the Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs discussed her recent trip to Kabul and the announcement by Afghan President Ghani of a peace offer with the Taliban at the Kabul Process conference last week. On March 8, Ambassador Wells delivered remarks on this topic at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington, DC.

Secretary Tillerson Hosts Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

On March 5, Secretary Tillerson hosted the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for a meeting at the Department of State. During the meeting, the Secretary and his counterparts discussed their cooperation to combat Russia’s disinformation efforts, Russian threats to European security, and preparations for the Baltic summit President Trump will host in April.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvics, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius, and Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, at the Department of State, March 5, 2018.

United States Announces Additional Sanctions on North Korea

In a statement released on March 6, the United States announced that it has determined that under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of North Korea used the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong Nam, in the Kuala Lumpur airport.

“This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind.”

- Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert

State Department, USAID, and Partners Host 2018 Global Partnerships Week

The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Concordia, and PeaceTech Lab co-hosted Global Partnerships Week March 5-9, 2018.

On March 5, 2018, the GPW Practitioners Forum kicked off the week by bringing together leaders and practitioners from multilateral organizations, civil society, and corporations to celebrate uncommon solutions to accelerating public-private partnerships from start to scale.

The Department also released the fifth annual State of Global Partnerships Report, featuring public-private partnerships across the State Department, including our embassies abroad, that are advancing the Department’s strategic priorities.

State Department Wishes Team USA’s Paralympic Athletes Well, Underscores Importance of Promoting Disability Rights

On March 8, during the Department’s press briefing Spokesperson Heather Nauert commented on the opening of the 2018 Winter Paralympic games, which are taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea through March 18.

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.