This Week at State: April 13, 2018

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This Week at State: April 13, 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:

United States Condemns Chemical Attack in Syria

The United States strongly condemned the April 7 chemical attack in Douma, Syria, allegedly targeting a hospital. In remarks before a cabinet meeting on April 9, President Donald J. Trump condemned the "heinous attack on innocent Syrians with banned chemical weapons," adding, "we are studying that situation extremely closely."

In a statement released on April 7, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, "Reports from a number of contacts and medical personnel on the ground indicate a potentially high number of casualties, including among families hiding in shelters. These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke about the attack during an April 9 emergency United Nations Security Council briefing on chemical weapons use in Syria. Ambassador Haley also addressed the Security Council following Russia’s veto of the United States draft resolution on the use of chemical weapons in Syria on April 10.

State Department Congratulates Sierra Leone for Peaceful Presidential Elections

In a press statement on April 9, Spokesperson Nauert commented on presidential elections in Sierra Leone. The election proves the strength and resilience of Sierra Leone’s democracy, and we look forward to working with President Julius Maada Bio to further strengthen our bilateral relationship.

“The United States congratulates the people of Sierra Leone on its peaceful presidential elections held on March 31. The election proves the strength and resilience of Sierra Leone’s democracy, and we look forward to working with President Julius Maada Bio to further strengthen our bilateral relationship.”

-Spokesperson Heather Nauert

Acting Secretary Sullivan Speaks with the UK Foreign Secretary, Meets with Qatari Emir

On April 9 Acting Secretary Sullivan spoke twice by phone with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to discuss the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria. The leaders discussed the international community’s response and potential further steps the U.S. and UK governments might take in coordination with other partners.

On April 10, Acting Secretary Sullivan met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The leaders addressed the urgent need to resolve the Gulf dispute, enabling the U.S. and a united GCC to promote regional security & stability, as well as other important bilateral & regional issues, including Syria and Iran.

New Global Malaria Coordinator Appointed to Lead the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative

USAID welcomed Dr. Kenneth Staley as the new Global Malaria Coordinator, responsible for the strategy and implementation of the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), in an April 10 statement

“While PMI, together with global partners, exceeded the ambitious goal of reducing malaria mortality by half, from 2000-2015, we still have a long way to go. Malaria continues to cause unacceptable levels of death and suffering, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a child dies every two minutes because of the disease.”

- USAID Administrator Mark Green

Acting Secretary Sullivan Travels to Lima, Peru to Participate in the Summit of the Americas

Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to Lima, Peru to accompany Vice President Mike Pence at the Eighth Summit of the Americas, April 11-14.

On April 12, Acting Secretary Sullivan and USAID Administrator Mark Green met with Cuban independent civil society members to demonstrate support for the Cuban people in the face of continued repression by their government. The Acting Secretary and USAID Administrator also met with representatives from Venezuelan civil society and applauded their courageous defense of human rights and democracy in their country.

On April 13, Acting Secretary Sullivan spoke at the announcement of a funding initiative for women’s empowerment, alongside Advisor to the President of the United States, Ivanka Trump and President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Ray Washburne. “Advancing women’s economic participation globally is key to achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives and is directly linked to our national security,” the Acting Secretary said.

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, with Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump (right), delivers opening remarks at the Press Announcement on women’s economic empowerment in Lima, Peru, on April 13, 2018.

Acting Secretary Sullivan met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, Vice President Jafeth Cabrera of Guatemala, and Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez of El Salvador on April 13, where he underscored the U.S. commitment to work together to address common challenges, including transnational criminal organizations, drug trafficking, and economic development. 

The Acting Secretary also met with Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

United States Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

On April 11, the Department hosted its annual Yom HaShoah observance event co-sponsored by the embassies of Israel and Poland. The event commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and honored the strength and bravery of holocaust victims, survivors and heroes.

United States Condemns Houthi Missile Attack on Riyadh

The United States strongly condemned the April 11 Houthi missile attack on Riyadh in a statement by Spokesperson Nauert.

“We support the right of our Saudi partners to defend their borders against these threats, which are fueled by the Iranian regime’s dangerous proliferation of weapons and destabilizing activities in the region...We continue to call on all parties to return to UN-facilitated political negotiations and move toward ending the war in Yemen.”

- Department Spokesperson Nauert

Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The United States announced nearly $67 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the DRC Humanitarian Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 13. With this assistance, the United States is providing food, protection, shelter, health care, and other urgent aid for vulnerable Congolese and refugees in the DRC.

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.