This Week at State: May 11, 2018

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This Week at State: May 11, 2018

Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week?  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:

President Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to the State of Israel to Attend the Opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem

On May 7, President Donald J. Trump announced the Presidential Delegation to the State of Israel to attend the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will lead the delegation.

Vice President Pence Addresses the Organization of American States

On May 7, Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. The Vice President reaffirmed the Administration’s priorities in the Western Hemisphere.

“Under President Trump the United States will always put the security and prosperity of America first. But America first does not mean America alone. Our nation has always cared deeply about our neighbors across the hemisphere … we are all bound together by geography, by history, and by the enduring aspiration for freedom.”

-- Vice President Pence

Vice President Pence also reiterated the United States’ support for the people of Cuba and Nicaragua as they demand freedom and democratic reforms, and addressed the crisis in Venezuela, calling on Venezuela to suspend its presidential election later this month because of corruption concerns, and encouraging other nations in the region to take a stronger stance on behalf of the Venezuelan people.

Secretary Pompeo Meets with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray

On May 7, Secretary Pompeo met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray at the State Department to discuss trade, security including transnational crime, other shared regional and global priorities of our two countries. In joint remarks following their meeting, Secretary Pompeo shared a readout of this meeting and underscored the importance of the United States’ partnership with Mexico.

U.S. Congratulates Tunisia, Armenia, and Malaysia on Recent Elections

The United States congratulated the people of Tunisia on the country’s first-ever free municipal elections. In a May 7 statement, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert emphasized the importance of these as a step in the consolidation of its democracy. “As Tunisia meets the democratic milestones set out in its constitution, the United States continues to support Tunisia’s progress,” the Spokesperson said.

The United States also congratulated Nikol Pashinyan as the new Prime Minister of Armenia. “We look forward to working closely with the new government and with the people of Armenia on the many areas of shared interest between our countries, including increasing trade, working in support of democracy and rule of law, and safeguarding regional and global security,” Department Spokesperson Nauert said in a May 8 statement.

On May 9, the United States congratulated the people of Malaysia on their participation in a hard-fought election campaign. Department Spokesperson Nauert said, “We fully expect all institutions will carry out their functions and duties to produce and implement official results in accordance with the federal constitution and the will of the people.”

State Department Announces Annual Greening Diplomacy Initiative Award Winners

On May 7, the State Department announced its the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) Awards, recognizing innovative leadership within the Department of State in energy and environmental diplomacy. U.S. Embassy Kabul won the 2018 Greening Diplomacy Award winner for its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, despite facing a constant critical-threat security environment with limited infrastructure.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan and Ambassador Haley Address 48th Annual Washington Conference on the Americas

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan delivered opening keynote remarks at the 48th Annual Washington Conference on the Americas, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of State and the Council of the Americas, on May 8, at the Department of State. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also addressed the conference.

State Department Comments on Closure of Controlled Crossing Points in Russian Occupied Georgian Territory of South Ossetia

In a May 8 press statement from Spokesperson Nauert, the United States expressed concern regarding the decision of de facto South Ossetian authorities to temporarily close controlled crossing points in Georgia along the administrative boundary line in the Russian-occupied territory of South Ossetia. The United States also called for an “immediate halt to the ongoing illegal detentions of Georgian citizens by de facto and Russian authorities along the administrative boundary lines with the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

President Trump Announces the United States Terminating Participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

On May 8, President Donald J. Trump announced he is terminating the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.

Following the President’s announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement highlighting U.S. efforts to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian threat.

“We have a shared interest with our allies in Europe and around the world to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon.  But our effort is broader than just the nuclear threat and we will be working together with partners to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East and beyond. As we build this global effort, sanctions will go into full effect and will remind the Iranian regime of the diplomatic and economic isolation that results from its reckless and malign activity.”

-– Secretary Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Travels to North Korea, Returns With Freed Americans

Secretary Pompeo traveled to North Korea on May 8-9 to meet with North Korean Government officials, including Chairman Kim Jong Un, and to continue preparations for President Trump’s summit with the North Korean leader. Following his trip, Secretary Pompeo commented on these preparations saying, “both sides are confident that we will set the conditions for a successful meeting between the two leaders.”

During the Secretary’s visit, the North Korean government released three detained Americans from custody. In a statement, the freed Americans expressed their deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing them home.

President Trump and Vice President Pence met the freed Americans upon their arrival at Joint Base Andrews on May 10.

President Trump also announced that his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would take place on June 12 in Singapore.

Secretary Pompeo Hosts Meetings with Korean and Canadian Foreign Ministers

Secretary Pompeo hosted a meeting with Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, on May 11 at the Department of State. During a press availability following their meeting, Secretary Pompeo highlighted the strong relationship between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, and close coordination on issues of mutual importance, including North Korea.

In a separate meeting on May 11, Secretary Pompeo hosted Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

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.

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Today, the United States Senate confirmed Philip Goldberg, Charge d'Affaires ad interim at the United States Embassy in Cuba, David Hale, United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Michele Sison, United States Ambassador to Haiti, and Daniel Smith, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, as Career Ambassadors. According to the Foreign Service Act of 1980, the President is empowered with the advice and consent of the Senate to confer the personal rank of Career Ambassador upon a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period. There have only been 59 Career Ambassadors confirmed prior to 2018. In recognition of this honor, we congratulate the Ambassadors and invite you to learn more about them. Philip Goldberg