This Week at State: February 1, 2019

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This Week at State: February 1, 2019

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 Delivers Remarks at a United Nations Security Council Meeting on Venezuela

On January 26, Secretary Pompeo traveled to New York City to speak before the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Venezuela, and urged every nation to support the people of Venezuela and recognize the new democratic government led by interim President Guaido.

In his remarks at the UN Security Council meeting, Secretary Pompeo said, "We stand with the Venezuelan people as they seek to build a better life for themselves and we cannot ignore the suffering or tyranny taking place in this proud nation. Neither should other countries who care about freedom and prosperity."

Following his remarks, Secretary Pompeo reiterated the need for international support for Venezuela’s transition during a press availability.

United States Accepts Designation of Chargé d’Affaires of the Government of Venezuela

On January 27, the United States accepted Interim President Guaido’s designation of Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as Chargé d’Affaires of the Government of Venezuela.  In a January 25 meeting at the State Department, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier reaffirmed U.S. support for Interim President Guaido’s leadership.

United States Imposes Sanctions Against PDVSA and Venezuela Oil Sector

On January 28, the U.S. determined that persons operating in Venezuela’s oil sector may now be subject to sanctions.  State-owned companies like Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) have been used to control, manipulate, and steal from the Venezuelan people, and the United States must take necessary actions to prevent the illegitimate former Maduro regime from further plundering Venezuela’s assets and natural resources.

State Department Shares Condolences on Burst Dam in Brazil

In a statement on January 28, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino offered condolences to the families of those who passed away due to the tragic accident in Brumadinho, Brazil, and emphasized that the United States stands ready to assist the Brazilian government in any way possible.

United States Expresses Concern Over the Sentencing of Wang Quanzhang

On January 29, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino issued a statement expressing concern over the sentencing of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to four-and-a-half years in prison on charges of “subverting state power.” The United States calls on China to release Mr. Wang immediately, and remains concerned by the deteriorating situation for the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in China.

State Department Announces Meeting with Foreign Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS

Secretary Pompeo will host the 79-member Coalition for a day of meetings on February 6 for in-depth discussions on the impending territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which is the result of four years of Coalition and our partners’ efforts, and a significant milestone towards delivering ISIS an enduring defeat.  The Global Coalition regularly meets to coordinate and enhance combined efforts to counter ISIS.

 “The United States is determined to prevent a resurgence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria takes place, and remains committed to working with the Global Coalition to continue to destroy ISIS remnants and thwart its global ambitions.”

U.S., Algeria Emphasize Commitment to Long-Stand Relationship

On January 29, the United States and Algeria convened the fourth session of the U.S.-Algeria Strategic Dialogue.  Secretary Pompeo and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Messahel agreed to sustain cooperation in defeating terrorist groups including AQIM and ISIS, emphasized support for a closer economic partnership, and reviewed cultural and educational programs between the United States and Algeria.   

Engagements with Foreign Leaders

On January 30, Secretary Pompeo met with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. The Secretary also spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Freeland discussed Venezuela, China, and the upcoming Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. On January 31, Secretary Pompeo spoke with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths.

U.S. Efforts Towards D.P.R.K. Denuclearization
Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun delivered remarks on DPRK at Stanford University. Special Representative Biegun said, "President Trump and Chairman Kim have decided to pursue a top-down approach with a breadth of actions that – if successful – will fundamentally transform relations between our two countries."

United States To Suspend Obligations Under INF Treaty

On February 1, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced that the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty, effective on February 2.  This follows from the U.S. announcement of December 4 that Russia was in material breach of the Treaty and had 60 days to return to compliance before U.S. suspension took effect.

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.