This Week at State: May 25, 2018

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This Week at State: May 25, 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 key moments from This Week at State:

State Department Offers Condolences on Death of Pakistani Exchange Student

On May 19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his deepest condolences on the death of Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh. "I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sabika Sheikh, who was killed in the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, yesterday. Sabika was in the United States on the State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study program, helping to build ties between the United States and her native Pakistan. Sabika’s death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan."

The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs organized a virtual memorial to remember Sabika Sheikh.

Secretary Pompeo on the Passing of Bernard Lewis

Secretary Pompeo issued a statement on the passing of Bernard Lewis on May 20.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Leads U.S. Delegation to G-20 Foreign Ministerial in Argentina and Travels to Brazil

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan led the U.S. delegation to the G-20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 20-21.

On the margins of the G-20 ministerial, Deputy Secretary Sullivan met with a number of foreign ministers for bilateral discussions, including leaders from Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.

Following the G-20 ministerial, Deputy Secretary Sullivan travelled to Brazil, where he met with Brazilian Deputy Foreign Minister Marcos Galvao and Brazilian Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Fred Arruda and also launched the U.S.-Brazil Permanent Forum on Security. This initiative is a result of consistent cooperation between the United States and Brazil on fighting transnational crime, and based upon the strengthening of collaboration of law enforcement and security agencies in both countries.

United States Condemns Fraudulent Election in Venezuela; Extends Sanctions and Expels Diplomats

The United States condemned the fraudulent election that took place in Venezuela on May 20. In a statement, Secretary Pompeo said, "This so-called 'election' is an attack on constitutional order and an affront to Venezuela’s tradition of democracy. Until the Maduro regime restores a democratic path in Venezuela through free, fair, and transparent elections, the government faces isolation from the international community."

Vice President Mike Pence also released a statement, calling the election "a sham -- neither free nor fair." The Vice President added, "America stands against dictatorship and with the people of Venezuela."

President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order on May 21 to prevent the Maduro regime from selling or collateralizing certain Venezuelan financial assets, and to prohibit the regime from earning money from the sale of certain entities of the Venezuelan government.

On May 23, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement declaring that the Department had  declared the Chargé d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston personae non grata. This action was to reciprocate the Maduro regime’s decision to declare the Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas personae non grata.

State Department Addresses Referendum in Burundi

In a May 21 statement, Spokesperson Nauert noted that "the May 17 referendum process in Burundi was marred by a lack of transparency, the suspension of media outlets, and attempts to pressure voters." Spokesperson Nauert said that "the absence of independent observers also undermines confidence in the reported result."

Secretary Pompeo Outlines New Iran Strategy

On May 21, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks at the Heritage Foundation titled "After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy."

In the speech, Secretary Pompeo outlined the way forward following the President's decision to withdraw from participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). "Any new agreement will make sure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and will deter the regime's malign behavior in a way that the JCPOA never could," Secretary Pompeo said.

For additional coverage of the Secretary's speech, check out this blog entry.

State Department Hosts Bilateral Meetings With Global Leaders

On May 21, Secretary Pompeo hosted Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili as part of the 2018 Plenary Session of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership meeting at the Department of State. Secretary Pompeo also hosted bilateral meetings with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and welcomed Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsogtbaatar Damdin during his meeting with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon.

On May 23, Secretary Pompeo hosted Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang YiGerman Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

On May 25, Secretary Pompeo met with Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen at the Department of State.

President Trump Hosts Republic of Korea President

President Trump hosted Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on May 22. During remarks before the bilateral meeting, President Trump emphasized the strong collaboration between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

Secretary Pompeo joined the President's meeting and later commented on it during a press availability at the State Department.

Secretary Pompeo Testifies Before U.S. Congress on Budget

On May 23, Secretary Pompeo testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In his opening statement, Secretary Pompeo outlined the State Department and USAID's Fiscal Year 2019 budget request.

Secretary Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 24.

President Trump Releases Letter Regarding June Summit With North Korea

In a May 24 letter to North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un, President Trump announced that the June Summit with the North Korean leader will not take place.

State Department Affirms Findings Regarding Shoot Down of Malaysian Airlines MH15

On May 24, Spokesperson Nauert issued a statement expressing "complete confidence" in the findings of the Joint Investigative Team, as presented by the Dutch Public Prosecutor: the missile launcher used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 originated from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigade of the Russian Federation, stationed in Kursk.

On May 25, Spokesperson Nauert issued a statement, which said, "We strongly support the decisions by the Netherlands and Australia to call Russia to account for its role in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Flight #17 (MH-17) over eastern Ukraine and the horrific deaths of 298 civilians. It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH-17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign."

Follow the State Department on Facebook and Twitter for additional information and updates.

Editor's Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.