This Week at State: April 6, 2018

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This Week at State: April 6, 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:

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Assumes Title of Acting Secretary of State

On April 1, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan assumed the title of Acting Secretary of State. 

State Department Comments on Egyptian and Costa Rican Elections

In a statement on April 2, Department Spokesperson Nauert commented on the re-election of Egyptian President al-Sisi saying, “we look forward to continuing to work with President Abdelfattah al-Sisi to advance our strategic partnership and address our common challenges, while encouraging respect for and protection of basic rights and freedoms.”

In a separate statement on April 2, Department Spokesperson Nauert congratulated Carlos Alvarado Quesada “on his election as the next President of Costa Rica in free, fair, and peaceful voting that continues to be a model for the region.”

President Trump Hosts Baltic Summit

On April 3, President Donald J. Trump hosted the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania at the White House for a summit. Following the summit, the four leaders released a joint declaration pledging continued cooperation on security and economic issues, as well as people-to-people contacts. 

During his remarks at a joint press conference, President Trump declared, “This summit proudly displays to the world America’s deep and lasting friendship with the Baltic nations.” 

United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for Yemen

The U.S. government announced nearly $87 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen at the Yemen High-Level Pledging Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland on April 3. The new assistance, which includes funds from the Department of State and USAID, will be used to provide food assistance and continued support for safe drinking water, treatment for malnourished children, emergency shelter, protection, and other critical aid to millions of vulnerable Yemenis and refugees living in Yemen. 

USAID Administrator and Special Presidential Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Speak on Iraq and Syria

USAID Administrator Mark Green and Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk spoke at a keynote panel on the subject of stabilizing Iraq and Syria on April 3 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. 

In his remarks, Administrator Green focused on the Stabilization Assistance Review, highlighting that “stabilization programs are more than just manifestations of American generosity. They are, instead, key components of our national security planning.” 

In his remarks, Special Presidential Envoy McGurk discussed the U.S. role in stabilization following the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and in Syria. 

State Department Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan

The State Department commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan on April 3, with an event at the U.S. Diplomacy Center. The event highlighted the legacy of the Marshall Plan, while also looking forward to the U.S.-Europe relationship today and in the future. 

In his remarks, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell highlighted the United States’ commitment to the Western alliance saying, “There is no major foreign policy challenge in the world today in which the United States and Europe can expect to succeed without each other.” 

Acting Secretary Sullivan Hosts Meetings with Moroccan Foreign Minister and Chinese Ambassador

On April 3, Acting Secretary Sullivan hosted Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita for a bilateral meeting at the State Department. The Acting Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed the deep U.S.-Morocco bilateral relationship and regional issues, including efforts towards achieving regional peace‎.

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan meets with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 2018.

On April 4, Acting Secretary Sullivan hosted Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai for a meeting at the State Department. Acting Secretary Sullivan and Ambassador Cui agreed on the importance of pursuing a constructive U.S.-China relationship that produces meaningful results and reaffirmed the commitment of the United States and China to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Acting Secretary reiterated the need to restore fairness and balance to our economic ties.

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan greets Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai before their meeting at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2018.

United States Marks Anniversary of Chemical Attack in Syria

The United States marked the one year anniversary of the sarin chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on April 4. In a statement by Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert and a joint statement by Acting Secretary Sullivan and his counterparts from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the United States remembered the victims of the attack, called for accountability for those behind the attack, and renewed its calls to end the use of chemical weapons around the world.

In remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley also addressed the anniversary. 

United States Marks UN International Day for Mine Awareness

The United States marked the UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4. In a statement from Department Spokesperson Nauert, the United States outlined it commitment to “working closely with partners worldwide to address this serious humanitarian challenge that puts innocent people at risk.” 

“Working in close cooperation with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund, the Department of State has helped numerous countries to declare themselves mine free.

On this day of mine awareness, we urge other nations to join us in a robust international partnership with the shared goal of reducing the impact of landmines around the world.”

- Department Spokesperson Nauert 

In a special briefing, a senior official from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, provided an overview of U.S. contributions to demining efforts around the world. 

United States Troubled by Sentencing of Peaceful Activists in Vietnam

“The United States is deeply troubled that a Vietnamese court has convicted and sentenced peaceful activists Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Truong Minh Duc to harsh prison sentences under the vague charge of “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” Department Spokesperson Nauert said in an April 5 statement

The Spokesperson also stressed that the United States is “deeply concerned” by the Vietnamese government’s efforts to restrict the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, both online and offline, adding, “The United States calls on Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience immediately, and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely and assemble peacefully without fear of retribution.” 

Acting Secretary Sullivan Swears in New Civil Service Class

In an April 6 ceremony, Acting Secretary Sullivan delivered remarks and administered oath of office to the 151st Civil Service Orientation Class, at the Department of State. 

United States Announces New Russia Sanctions

On April 6, the United States Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control, in consultation with the Department of State, announced the designation of seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. 

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.