This Week at State: February 15, 2019

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This Week at State: February 15, 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 Meets with UN World Food Programme Executive Director

On February 9, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with UN World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. They emphasized the need for a political agreement that ends the conflict and brings peace, prosperity, and security to Yemen, and also discussed the difficult humanitarian situation in Venezuela.

State Department Announces Fulbright Top Producing Institutions

On February 11, the State Department announced the lists of more than 150 U.S. higher education institutions that sent the most Fulbright U.S. Students and Scholars abroad in academic year 2018-2019. These lists highlight the Fulbright Program’s strong institutional diversity and positive impact on American communities.

The United States Calls for Zimbabwe To End the Excessive Use of Force by Government Forces and Embrace National Dialogue

On February 12, Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino released a statement conveying the United States’ serious concern about the excessive use of force by Government of Zimbabwe security forces since January 14, which has resulted in at least 13 deaths, 600 victims of violence, torture or rape, and more than 1,000 arrests.

U.S Comments On the Passing of Former Afghan President Mojaddedi

On February 13, Secretary Pompeo released a statement joining the Afghan people in mourning the death of its former president, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi. “He will be missed by not only the Afghan people but the international community with whom he worked to advance peace and democracy,” he said.

State Department Congratulates Egypt On Assuming African Union Presidency

In a statement on February 13, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino congratulated Egypt on the start of its presidency of the African Union and noted that the United States looks forward to working together on the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Europe

Secretary Pompeo traveled to Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw, Brussels, and Reykjavik, February 11–15.


In Budapest, the Secretary met with Prime Minister Orban, Foreign Minister Szijjarto, and Defense Minister Benko to discuss a range of issues in the U.S.-Hungary bilateral relationship. The Secretary also met with civil society leaders and recognized the 30th anniversary of the end of communism.


In Slovakia, Secretary Pompeo met with President Kiska,Prime Minister Pellegrini, and Foreign Minister Lajcak to discuss the U.S.-Slovak security relationship, Slovakia’s role as Chair-in-Office of the OSCE, and regional and global issues. Secretary Pompeo visited the Gate of Freedom memorial and spoke with students about the legacy of Western democratic freedom and its triumph over Communism 30 years ago.


On February 13, The Secretary met with Foreign Minister Czaputowicz to discuss security and energy issues, building on the strong relations between the United States and Poland. He also visited Bemowo Piskie Training Area and met with American, British, Croatian, Polish, and Romanian troops serving alongside one another in support of NATO. The Secretary also participated in a Quad meeting on the situation in Yemen along with Foreign Ministers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom.

On February 14, the United States and Poland convened the "Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East,” also known as the Warsaw Summit. Secretary Pompeo delivered opening remarks and Vice President Michael R. Pence, who led the U.S. delegation, delivered remarks at a working luncheon. The United States and Poland released a joint statement following the meeting.

The Secretary met with global leaders in Poland on the margins of the Warsaw Summit, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.


In Brussels, on February 15, The Secretary met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation on a range of key issues including efforts to restore democracy to Venezuela and support Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido and the National Assembly, as well as the importance of strengthening European security and addressing the threats posed by Iran and Russia.


In Reykjavik on February 15, Secretary Pompeo met with Prime Minister Jakobsdottir and Foreign Minister Thordarson to  discuss security issues in the North Atlantic, Iceland’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and growing economic relations.

Secretary Pompeo Speaks with Journalists

While traveling in Europe, Secretary Pompeo had a series of conversations on the Warsaw Summit, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, and a range of global issues with journalists. On February 13, the Secretary spoke with Roxana Saberi of CBS News, Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour, and Jan Mikruta of Polsat.

On February 14, Secretary Pompeo spoke with Niusha Boghrati of Radio Farda, Michel Ghandour of Al Hurra, and Bret Baier of Fox News.

U.S. Participates in Global Conference on the Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela

On February 14, Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams delivered remarks at the Global Conference on the Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela, where he encouraged the international community and private sector to join us in increasing humanitarian assistance for the people of Venezuela.

The United States continues to urge countries to recognize Juan Guaido as interim president and join us in responding to his call for immediate international humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the Venezuelan people.

Meetings with International Leaders

In addition to the Secretary’s meetings during his trip to Europe, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-Sang and his delegation in Washington, DC on February 11. Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on February 13. On February 15, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Nigerian Presidential Candidates President Muhammadu Buhari and Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

U.S. Comments on the Amendment to National Reconciliation Legislation in Guatemala

On February 14, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino commented on the proposed amendment to the national reconciliation law in Guatemala. Expressing deep concern about this proposal, he stated, “The amendment would grant broad amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations and abuses as well as for convicted criminals.”

U.S. Comments on the Situation in Southern Libya

On February 14, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino commented on ongoing tensions in Southern Libya that have prolonged the closure of critical oil infrastructure and deprived all Libyans of vital economic resources. “We call on all parties to urgently establish a mutually acceptable security arrangement that will guarantee the safety of National Oil Corporation (NOC) workers and allow oil production at the al-Sharara oil field to resume as quickly as possible for the benefit of all Libyans,” he said.

U.S. Condemns Terrorist Attack on Indian Security Forces Convoy

In a statement on February 14, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino condemned, in the strongest terms, the terrorist attack on an Indian Central Reserve Police Force convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and extended our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.

U.S. Recognizes Eight-year Anniversary of the Detention of 2009 Iranian Political Opponents

In a statement on February 14, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino condemned the continued house arrest of 2009 Iranian presidential election candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, as well as Mousavi’s wife and women’s rights advocate Zahra Rahnavard -- on the eight year anniversary of their detention -- and demanded their immediate release as well as the release of all prisoners of conscience.

U.S. Announces Joint Response Plan for Bangladesh

On February 15, the U.S. announced $60 million in humanitarian assistance at the launch of the 2019 UN Joint Response Plan for Bangladesh. This funding will help address the emergency needs of more than 900,000 refugees in Bangladesh, most of whom are Rohingya women and children from Burma, and the related needs of Bangladeshi host communities.

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Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.