This Week at State: August 17, 2018

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This Week at State: August 17, 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 Speaks With Global Leaders

On August 11, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and on August 13, the Secretary spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

On August 14, Secretary Pompeo spoke with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa. In separate calls, the Secretary spoke with Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al Abadi and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

On August 15, Secretary Pompeo met with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The Secretary also had a phone call with Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid.

On August 16, Secretary Pompeo spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi, and on August 17, the Secretary met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso at the State Department.

State Department Observes International Youth Day

On August 12, the State Department observed International Youth Day by highlighting young people who are working to advance girls' education worldwide.

Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky Participates in Sports Envoy Program

On August 14, while in Tokyo, Japan for the 2018 Pan-Pacific Games, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky held a Sports Diplomacy swimming clinic in Setagaya Ward, which will host Team USA training camps for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The clinic was part of a Sports Envoy program, coordinated by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Japan.

United States Welcomes Release of Azerbaijani Political Party Chairman

In an August 15 statement, Spokesperson Nauert welcomed the decision of the Azerbaijani Court of Appeal to release Republican Alternative Party Chairman Ilgar Mammadov.

State Department Comments on Attempts to Deny Srebrenica Genocide

Spokesperson Nauert commented on attempts to deny the Srebrenica genocide and U.S. support for peace, stability, and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in an August 15 statement.

“Attempts to reject or amend the report on Srebrenica are part of wider efforts to revise the facts of the past war, to deny history, and to politicize tragedy. It is in the interest of the citizens of Republika Srpska to reverse the trend of revering convicted war criminals as heroes, and to ensure their crimes continue to be publicly rejected.”

- Spokesperson Nauert

State Department Announces Iran Action Group; Comments on Human Rights Abuses

On August 16, Secretary Pompeo announced the formation of the Iran Action Group (IAG), led by Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, to ensure a coordinated, unified approach to address the Iranian regime's hostile activity and support the Iranian people. Special Representative Hook also gave a special briefing on the creation of the IAG.

In the August 15 Department Press Briefing, Spokesperson Nauert commented on human rights abuses and arrests in Iran.

Secretary Pompeo Extends Condolences on Passing of Former Indian Prime Minister

Secretary Pompeo extended his condolences to the people of India on the recent passing of Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in an August 16 statement.

“Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee’s vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation. The American people and I stand with the people of India as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee’s passing.”

- Secretary Pompeo

United States Condemns Political Violence in Venezuela; Expresses Concern on Vietnamese Conviction

In an August 17 statement, the United States condemned the political violence that occurred on August 4, and urges the Maduro regime to respect the rule of law, exercise restraint, and safeguard the presumption of innocence for all accused.

Also in an August 17 statement, the United States expressed deep concern regarding the conviction of Le Dinh Luong in Vietnam for “attempting to overthrow the people’s administration.”

194th Foreign Service Generalist Class Sworn-In at the State Department

On August 17, Secretary Pompeo gave remarks and led the swearing-in of the 194th Foreign Service Generalist Class at the State Department.

State Department Announces Representative for Syria Engagement; Comments on Syria Stabilization Efforts

Secretary Pompeo swore-in Ambassador Jim Jeffrey as the Secretary’s Representative for Syria Engagement on August 17. Ambassador Jeffrey will coordinate policy on all aspects of the conflict in Syria and serve as the senior U.S. interlocutor with the United Nations and the international community regarding the implementation of UNSCR 2254 and the U.N.-led Syria peace talks.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Ambassador Jim Jeffrey speak during Ambassador Jeffrey's swearing-in ceremony on August 17, 2018, at the Department of State.

Also on August 17, the State Department announced that Secretary Pompeo has authorized the Department of State to redirect approximately $230 million in stabilization funds for Syria. The United States also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s August 16 contribution of $100 million for ongoing, Coalition-supported stabilization efforts in areas liberated from ISIS in Syria.

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.