This Week at State: June 1, 2018

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This Week at State: June 1, 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 Welcomes Long Overdue Freedom for Joshua Holt in Venezuela

In a May 26 statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States welcomed the release of Joshua Holt and his wife, Thamara, who were unjustly imprisoned in Venezuela.

While offering special thanks to a number of members of Congress who helped to make the release a reality, Secretary Pompeo reiterated the United States’ policy toward Venezuela: “U.S. policy toward Venezuela remains unchanged. The United States stands steadfast in support of the Venezuelan people and their efforts to return to democracy.”

President Donald J. Trump welcomed the Holts to the White House on May 26. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also released a statement on the release.

Release of the 2017 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered remarks on the release of the 2017 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom on May 29.

Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback discussed the report during a special briefing, a press availability at the Foreign Press Center, and in an interactive Facebook Live discussion following Secretary Pompeo’s remarks.

Read five things to know about this year's International Religious Freedom Report release.

State Department Commemorates the International Day for UN Peacekeepers

On May 29, Secretary Pompeo released a statement to mark the International Day for UN Peacekeepers.

“Today, on the annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we mark 70 years of UN peacekeeping, and the service and sacrifice of thousands of uniformed and civilian personnel. UN peacekeepers serve under dangerous and uncertain circumstances, and too often pay the ultimate sacrifice. We honor in particular today the more than 3,700 peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the service of peace over the past seven decades.”

-        Secretary Pompeo

Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert also commented on this international commemoration during the May 29 Department Press Briefing.

Read more about U.S. efforts to support UN peacekeeping operations around the world in these blogs from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

United States Hosts Chinese Study Visit To Observe Drug Prevention and Treatment Best Practices

On May 29, a senior-level Chinese delegation began a first-of-its-kind study visit to observe drug prevention and treatment practices in the United States. This U.S.-China effort to reduce demand for narcotics complements recent productive cooperation to reduce supply, most notably by placing restrictive controls on synthetic opioids. This is part of the State Department’s efforts aim to reduce demand for illicit drugs around the world and to share best practices in the areas of prevention and treatment.

Secretary Pompeo Speaks with Hungarian, French and Russian Leaders

Secretary Pompeo met with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto at the Department of State on May 30.

On May 30, Secretary Pompeo spoke separately by phone with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

State Department Addresses Syria’s Effort to Establish Diplomatic Relationships with Georgian Territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Spokesperson Nauert released a statement strongly condemning the Syrian regime’s intention to establish diplomatic relations with the Russian-occupied Georgia regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“These regions are part of Georgia. The United States’ position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unwavering. We fully support Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and call on all states to be mindful of their obligations under the UN Charter and do the same.”

-        Spokesperson Nauert

United States Condemns Hamas Rocket Launches into Israel at UN Security Council

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned Hamas for launching rockets into Israel endangering civilians during remarks at an Emergency UN Security Council Briefing on Gaza on May 30.

Spokesperson Nauert echoed this condemnation.

State Department Addresses Mother's Day Violence in Nicaragua

In a press statement on May 31, Spokesperson Nauert commented on Mother’s Day violence in Nicaragua.

“The United States condemns the Nicaraguan government’s violent response to peaceful Mother’s Day marches in Managua and other cities yesterday, including assaults on mothers mourning their children killed since protests began April 18. The United States also condemns the beatings of journalists and attacks against local TV and radio stations.”

-        Spokesperson Nauert

Secretary Pompeo Meets With North Korean Vice-Chairman Kim Yong Chol

Secretary Pompeo traveled to New York City, May 30-31, to meet with DPRK Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee Kim Yong Chol to discuss preparations for President Trump’s meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

The two leaders participated in a working dinner on May 30 and meetings on May 31.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a DPRK meeting with delegation from North Korea, led by DPRK Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee Kim Yong Chol in New York City on May 31, 2018.

On May 31, Secretary Pompeo held a press availability following the meetings. In his remarks, the Secretary highlighted the progress that has been made toward setting the conditions for a meeting, while also emphasizing the complexity of issues discussed.

"Through these series of meetings, I am confident we are moving in the right direction. ... [The meeting] offers a historic opening for President Trump and Chairman Kim to boldly lead the United States and the D.P.R.K. into a new era of peace, prosperity, and security."

-        Secretary Pompeo

On June 1, President Trump announced that he and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un will be meeting on June 12 in Singapore.

State Department Recognizes LBGTI Pride Month

On June 1, Secretary Pompeo released a statement in recognition of LGBTI pride month.

"As we begin Pride Month, we stand with the LGBTI community in U.S. and around the world in affirming the dignity and equality of all people. Human rights are universal."

- 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.