This Week at State: October 19, 2018

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This Week at State: October 19, 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:

U.S.  Welcomes Pastor Brunson to the White House

On October 13, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, joined President Donald J. Trump as he welcomed Pastor Brunson to the White House. This meeting occurred 24-hours after the Pastor was released from being detained in Turkey for two years.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Saudi Arabia

At the request of President Trump, Secretary Pompeo traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 15-16 to underscore, in meetings with Saudi government leaders, the need for a prompt and open investigation into the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Read more about the Secretary’s meetings in Riyadh in this blog.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to Iraq

Deputy Secretary John Sullivan continued his trip to Iraq through October 16, visiting Baghdad and Erbil. The Deputy Secretary met with Iraqi President Dr. Barhim Salih and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He also met with and congratulated newly elected Iraqi Speaker Halbusi, President Salih and Prime Minister-Designate Mahdi.

The Deputy Secretary’s engagements in Baghdad and Erbil focused on expanding U.S.-Iraq economic ties and underscoring the United States’ continued support for a strong, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq. The Deputy Secretary also reaffirmed the United States’ deep commitment to assisting persecuted religious groups, including those in Iraq.

U.S. Announces Foreign Assistance to Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Iraq

On October 16, the United States announced over $178 million in U.S. foreign assistance to support ethnic and religious communities in Iraq. This action is part of the continued commitment by Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, and USAID Administrator Green to support these vulnerable communities in Iraq as highlighted earlier this year at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. This U.S. foreign assistance brings total U.S. assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and USAID.

U.S. Sanctions Businesses Supporting Iranian Recruitment and Training of Child Soldiers

On October 16, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action against a vast network of businesses providing a financial lifeline to the Basij Resistance Force (Basij), a paramilitary force subordinate to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  Among other malign activities, this group recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.

On October 18, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley commented Iran’s use of child soldiers and these new sanctions in a meeting at the United Nations Security Council.

Read more about these new sanctions in this blog.

U.S. Celebrates World Food Day

On October 16, the United States joined the international community in recognizing World Food Day, celebrated each year to promote worldwide awareness and action to ensure investments in food security make a lasting impact.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Turkey

Secretary Pompeo traveled to Ankara, Turkey on October 17, 2018. The Secretary met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and  Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to discuss a range of bilateral issues of importance, including Syria. The Secretary welcomed the decision to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and to discuss other issues of bilateral importance. The Secretary also discussed the Jamal Khashoggi case and reiterated the United States' offer to assist Turkey in its investigation.

Read more about the Secretary’s travel to Ankara in this blog.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Panama and Mexico City

Secretary Pompeo traveled to Panama City on October 18, where he met with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado to advance priority issues in our bilateral relationship

The Secretary traveled to Mexico City, October 19, to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso, as well as with Foreign Secretary-designate Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubon  in support of shared efforts to secure a safer, prosperous, and democratic region.

Secretary Pompeo Comments on the Merging of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem

On October 18, Secretary Pompeo announced, that following the May 14 opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, the United States plans to achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness by merging U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem into a single diplomatic mission.

“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”

- Secretary Pompeo

Secretary Pompeo on the Trump Administration’s Iran Policy

On October 18, Secretary Pompeo laid out the Trump Administration’s policy on Iran in an opinion piece that appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine.


Secretary Pompeo Condemns Attack on Afghan Provincial Leadership in Kandahar

On October 18, Secretary Pompeo released a statement condemning the attack directed today on Afghan provincial leadership in Kandahar.

We extend our sympathies and condolences to the families of General Raziq and the other senior Afghan officials who were killed in the attack. We also extend hope for the speedy recovery of all those injured in the attack, including two Americans and one Coalition member who were present at the time.”

- Secretary Pompeo

U.S. Announces Additional Assistance for Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami Response

On October 18, the United States Government announced that it will implement $3 million in new funding through the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) in support of relief efforts for the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami response. This additional funding raises the total United States contribution to $6.7 million, not including the Department of Defense’s operational expenses.

"This is what we mean when we say we are Indonesia’s partner. We will continue to assist the Government of Indonesia in its relief efforts.”

-U.S. Ambassador Joseph R. Donovan Jr

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.