This Week at State: May 18, 2018

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This Week at State: May 18, 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 Congratulates Iraqi People on Parliamentary Elections

The United States congratulated the Iraqi people on its parliamentary election, in a May 12 statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“The newly elected members of parliament will have the important task of forming an inclusive government, responsive to the needs of all Iraqis. We hope this process moves quickly, and on the constitutional timeline, so that Iraq can continue moving toward a more secure, prosperous, and brighter future.”

- Secretary Pompeo

Secretary Pompeo Talks About Iran and North Korea on Sunday Morning Shows

Secretary Pompeo highlighted next steps with regard to Iran and North Korea during interviews with “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday” on May 13.

On Iran, Secretary Pompeo addressed the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA, emphasizing the need not just to prevent its nuclear weapons program, but also to stop Iran’s malign activities across the region.

On North Korea, Secretary Pompeo discussed his recent trip to Pyongyang and preparations for the June 12 meeting between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un.

United States Dedicates the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel

The United States dedicated the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel on May 14. In a video message, President Trump emphasized the United States’ official recognition of Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan gave remarks during the dedication ceremony, highlighting the Embassy as “a step towards advancing peace in this city, in the broader region, and throughout the world.”

Secretary Pompeo also released a statement on the opening of the embassy.

State Department Marks National Police Week

The State Department marked National Police Week, May 13-19, honoring its law enforcement colleagues and partners in the United States and around the world.

Read more our law enforcement partnerships in these blogs from the Diplomatic Security Service, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and check out this Snapchat story from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Secretary Pompeo Meets with UAE, Uzbekistan, UN, and Netherlands Leaders

On May 14, Secretary Pompeo hosted United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan for a meeting at the State Department.

On May 16, Secretary Pompeo met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the State Department.

On May 17, Secretary Pompeo met with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the State Department.

On May 18, Secretary Pompeo met with United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths at the State Department.

On May 18, Secretary Pompeo hosted Netherlands Foreign Minister Stephanus Blok for a meeting at the State Department.

Secretary Pompeo Announces Lift of Hiring Freeze

In a letter to State Department employees on May 15, Secretary Pompeo announced his decision to lift the hiring freeze for Foreign Service and Civil Service employees.

State Department Expresses Concern Over Chinese Government Harassment in Chengdu

In a May 15 statement, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert called on China to “uphold its international commitments to promote respect for religious freedom for all persons” following the Chinese government’s reported harassment of the Early Rain Covenant Church after they planned to hold a memorial service for the victims of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

United States Condemns Opening of Kerch Strait Bridge

The United States condemned Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, in a statement by Spokesperson Nauert on May 15.

Secretary Pompeo Statement on the Occasion of Ramadan

“On behalf of the United States Department of State, I offer best wishes to Muslims around the world for a peaceful and blessed Ramadan,” Secretary Pompeo said in a May 15 statement marking the start of Ramadan and honoring the valuable contributions to their societies of Muslims in the United States and around the world.

“Every year many of our embassies and consulates around the world host Ramadan activities bringing together Muslims and people of other faiths who are committed to our shared goal of fostering peace, stability, and prosperity. These conversations and collaborations are one of the core strengths of our diplomacy, paving the way for stronger communities through partnerships and respect for diversity.”

- Secretary Pompeo

Readouts from Secretary Pompeo’s Calls with Foreign Leaders

On May 16, Spokesperson Nauert released readouts from Secretary Pompeo’s phone calls with  Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics, and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

On May 17, Spokesperson Nauert released readouts from Secretary Pompeo’s phone calls with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

On May 18, Spokesperson Nauert released readouts from Secretary Pompeo’s phone calls with African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira.

State Department Comments on Close of Candidate Registration Period for Cambodia Elections

“The United States deeply regrets the Royal Government of Cambodia’s decision to prohibit leading figures from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) from participating in the July 2018, national elections,” Spokesperson Nauert said in a May 17 statement, which also addressed the imprisonment of CNRP leader Kem Sokha.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan To Travel to Argentina and Brazil

On May 17, the State Department announced that Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina from May 20-21 to lead the U.S. delegation to the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and to Brasilia, Brazil to meet with Brazilian leaders and to launch the U.S.-Brazil Security Forum.

State Department Statement on OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Report on Syria

Spokesperson Nauert released a statement on May 17 on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact-Finding Mission’s (FFM) report regarding an alleged incident in Saraqib, Syrian Arab Republic on 4 February 2018. The FFM “determined that chlorine, released from cylinders through mechanical impact, was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib.”

“For seven long years there has been no let-up in the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, enabled by its backers, Russia and Iran, in flagrant violation of international law. The suffering that has been inflicted on the Syrian people by the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian backers is abhorrent. Russia, which promised the world in 2013 that it would guarantee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, is ultimately responsible for their continued use there.”

- Spokesperson Nauert

Secretary Pompeo Marks PEPFAR’s 15th Anniversary

In a video released on May 17, Secretary Pompeo marked the 15th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Secretary Pompeo on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

Secretary Pompeo released a statement for the May 17 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

“On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the United States stands with people around the world in affirming the dignity and equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. Human rights are universal, and LGBTI people are entitled to the same respect, freedoms, and protections as everyone else.”

- Secretary Pompeo

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.