This Week at State: July 27, 2018

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This Week at State: July 27, 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 key moments from This Week at State:

Secretary Pompeo Gives Remarks on ‘Supporting Iranian Voices’

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo gave remarks on ‘Supporting Iranian Voices’ to a group of Iranian Americans at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on July 22.

“To our Iranian American friends, tonight I want to tell you that the Trump administration dreams the same dreams for the people of Iran as you do, and through our labors and God’s providence that day will come true,” Secretary Pompeo said.

Secretary Pompeo Speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Cavusoglu

On July 22, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert provided a readout of Secretary Pompeo’s July 21 phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

On July 27, the Spokesperson shared a readout of Secretary Pompeo’s phone call with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Statement on Continued Success of Operations to Defeat ISIS in Syria

Secretary Pompeo congratulated the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on their successful operations to liberate al-Dashisha, Syria, from ISIS, in a July 22 statement.

“We commend the bravery and sacrifice of the Syrian Democratic Forces. We also commend the significant efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces to ensure that ISIS could not flee into Iraq and the artillery and air support provided during key moments of the operation.”

- Secretary Pompeo

Welcoming Successful Evacuation of White Helmets in Syria

Spokesperson Nauert welcomed the safe evacuation of more than 400 members of the Syrian Civil Defense, otherwise known as the White Helmets, from southwest Syria, in a statement released on July 22. Spokesperson Nauert also commented on the roles of Israel, Jordan, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany to assist the White Helmets and their families during transit, processing and resettlement.

“We renew our call on the Assad regime and Russia to abide by their commitments, end the violence, and protect all Syrian civilians, including humanitarians such as the White Helmets, in areas formerly part of the southwest de-escalation zone and throughout Syria.”

- Spokesperson Nauert

United States and Australia Hold AUSMIN Ministerial

On July 23-24, Secretary Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis hosted Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Defence Marise Payne for this year’s Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Palo Alto, California.‎ In remarks during a press availability, Secretary Pompeo said, “We’re proud to call Australia one of our best friends and strongest allies. They’re truly that all across the world, and we will continue to work closely together on a range of key bilateral and global issues."

For more information this year’s AUSMIN, check out this fact sheet and read this DipNote blog.

United States Notes Progress on Ukraine Energy Reforms

In a July 24 statement, Spokesperson Nauert noted the progress made toward reform of the Ukrainian energy sector. “The Trump Administration places a high priority on energy security, and these actions represent a positive step for Ukraine as an important transit country for gas delivered to Europe, and also for European energy security more broadly,” the Spokesperson said.

State Department Hosts Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

On July 24-26, Secretary Pompeo hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the Department of State. The Ministerial convened leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges facing religious freedom, identify concrete means to address persecution of and discrimination against religious groups, and promote greater respect for religious freedom for all.

On July 26, Vice President Mike Pence delivered keynote remarks at the Ministerial underscoring the importance of international religious freedom and its role in American foreign policy.

In advance of the Ministerial on July 24, Secretary Pompeo published this editorial highlighting the U.S. commitment to religious freedom.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan delivered opening remarks to the Ministerial on July 25.

For more information on the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, check out this blog and follow the conversation at #IRFMinisterial.

U.S. Condemns Deadly Attacks in Syria's Sweida Province

On July 25, Spokesperson Nauert strongly condemned the “barbaric ISIS-claimed attacks that took place in Syria’s southwestern Sweida province, deliberately targeting and killing scores of civilians and injuring many more.” The Spokeperson’s statement added, “We remain steadfast in our efforts to defeat ISIS and de-escalate the violence in Syria to bring greater peace and stability to this region.”

United States Comments on Pastor Brunson’s Move to House Arrest in Turkey

Secretary Pompeo released a statement on July 25 commenting on Pastor Andrew Brunson’s move from prison to house arrest in Turkey. “While this move is a positive development, it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and we call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner,” Secretary Pompeo said.

Vice President Pence also commented on Pastor Brunson’s case.

United States Refuses to Recognize Russian Claims to Crimea

On July 25, Secretary Pompeo released a declaration on Crimea, in which the United States “reaffirmed as policy” its refusal to recognize Russia’s claims of sovereignty over Crimea, territory seized by force in contravention of international law.

Secretary Pompeo Testifies Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Secretary Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25. In his opening remarks, Secretary Pompeo highlighted recent work on three particular areas: North Korea, NATO, and Russia.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Meets with Global Leaders

On the margins of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on July 25, Deputy Secretary Sullivan met with UK Minister of State Lord Ahmad, Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Ali, and Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. The Deputy Secretary also met with Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister Kamilov.

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.