This Week at State: March 22, 2019

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This Week at State: March 22, 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:

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to South Africa and Angola

Deputy Secretary Sullivan concluded his trip to  South Africa and Angola on March 18. In South Africa, Deputy Secretary Sullivan held meetings on economic engagement, discussed African and global issues with the U.S.-South Africa Working Group, met with former South African President Motlanthe and engaged with U.S. government exchange program alumni.

In Angola, Deputy Secretary Sullivan met with President João Lourenço and Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto, as well as with Angolan business leaders, journalists, human rights activists, and youth leaders.

Venezuela: President Trump Meets with Carribbean Leaders, Special Representative Abrams Meets with Russian and Italian Officials, U.S. Issues Sanctions Against Gold Sector, U.S. Hosts Event on Human Rights Abuses; Expresses Concern for Detained U.S. Persons 

On March 22, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan joined President Donald J. Trump to welcome Caribbean leaders (from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and St. Lucia)  to a meeting at Mar-a-Lago where the group held discussions on how best to support the Venezuelan people as they strive for democracy, as well as future engagement in the region under the U.S.-Caribbean 2020 strategy.

In a statement on March 22, Deputy Spokesperson Palladinobout the welfare and safety of all U.S. persons detained in Venezuela, and by reports of Venezuelan prison officials preventing attorneys and families of detained U.S. citizens from delivering food and denying routine communication. 

On March 18 and 19, Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and other Russian officials in Rome to discuss the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. Special Representative Abrams also met with Italian officials, including Prime Minister Diplomatic Advisor Pietro Benassi.

On March 19, the United States took action to prevent the former Maduro regime from further plundering Venezuela’s assets and natural resources. This action designated the Venezuelan state-owned gold-sector company, MINERVEN, and its president, Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata, for operating in the gold sector, which is subject to sanctions as outlined in Executive Order (E.O.) 13850.

On March 19, the United States co-sponsored an event with Albania, Argentina, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Romania, and the United Kingdom at the United Nations in Geneva, to highlight the dire human rights situation in Venezuela.

U.S. Offers Condolences on the Passing of Thai Ambassador, His Excellency Virachai Plasai

In a press statement on March 16, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino offered heartfelt condolences on the passing of His Excellency Ambassador Virachai Plasai to his family, friends, and the people of Thailand.

Secretary Pompeo Speaks at  #Road to GES Heartland in Overland Park, Kansas

On March 18, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo traveled to Overland Park, Kansas for the “Road to GES Heartland” event, hosted by the State Department. There, the Secretary delivered the keynote address, as well as remarks at a welcome reception, focused on the State Department’s efforts to champion entrepreneurship, innovation, and free enterprise, and encourage partnerships that advance economic growth and prosperity in the United States and around the world.

U.S. Condemns Repression of Human Rights in Nicaragua

In a press statement on March 18, Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino conveyed the United States’ condemnation of the Ortega regime’s continued violence and repression toward the Nicaraguan people, including the arbitrary detention of hundreds of peaceful protestors and violence against independent media on March 16.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Beirut, Jerusalem, and Kuwait City

Secretary Pompeo traveled to Beirut, Jerusalem, and Kuwait City March 19-23 where he focused on reinvigorating partnerships, enhancing bilateral ties, and countering Iran. The Secretary reinforced the value of our partnerships, as well as the importance of security and economic cooperation in achieving regional stability and countering the Iranian regime’s malign activities.

In Kuwait, Secretary Pompeo delivered opening remarks and participated in a signing ceremony at the U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue, after which the United States and Kuwait released a joint statement. Secretary Pompeo also met with Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and participated in a joint press availability.

In Israel, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks at an Eastern Mediterranean 3+1 Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Secretary Pompeo also participated in a joint press availability with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Lebanon, Secretary Pompeo met with Lebanese leaders to discuss the political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges facing Lebanon. The Secretary underscored U.S. support for the Lebanese people and Lebanon’s legitimate state institutions.

Read more about Secretary Pompeo’s trip here.

U.S. Signs Technology Safeguards Agreement with Brazil

On March 18, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford and Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations Ambassador Ernesto Araujo signed theTechnology Safeguards Agreement between the U.S. and Brazilian governments on technology safeguards associated with U.S. participation in space launches from Brazil.

U.S. and Japan Release Joint Statement on Strategic Energy Partnership

In a joint statement on March 19, the United States and Japan emphasized their commitment to strengthening energy security and promoting energy access in the Indo-Pacific region and in sub-Saharan Africa during the third meeting of the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP) held in Washington, D.C. on February 28, 2019.

The Department of State Dedicates the New U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia

On March 19, the United States dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.  The new complex provides a secure, modern, sustainable, and resilient platform for U.S. diplomacy in Indonesia and the ASEAN region.

U.S. Announces Call to Action: Supporting Women Through Water

In a notice to the press on March 19, the United States announced that on March 21, 2019, in honor of Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and World Water Day, the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Water Partnership, the Aspen Institute, Global Water 2020, and the Global Water Challenge will host a conference to raise awareness about the link between women’s empowerment and water.

State Department Celebrates Milestone of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

On March 19, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kimberly Breier, celebrated the fifth-year milestone of the 100,000 Strong in the America’s Innovation Fund, the State Department’s signature education initiative that links U.S. universities with higher-education institutions in the Western Hemisphere. Assistant Secretary Breier recognized university and business leaders for their visionary commitment to this hemisphere-wide education initiative and announced new Innovation Fund grants and partnerships.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Hosts Dialogue on Afghan Peace Process

Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad hosted his counterparts from Russia, China, and the European Union at the State Department on March 21 and 22 to discuss international support for the Afghan peace process, the role each party can play in bringing an end to the war, and progress to date in peace talks.

U.S. Offers Condolences Regarding Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe

In a press statement on March 20, Deputy Spokesperson Palladino offered the United States’ heartfelt sympathies to those in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe affected by Cyclone Idai and other recent flooding in southern Africa, in particular those who were injured and those who have lost loved ones. In coordination with our partners, the United States is providing support to relief efforts.

Meetings with Global Leaders

On March 20, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

State Department Comments on Mosul Ferry Disaster

In a statement on March 22, Deputy Spokesperson Palldino commented on reports of dozens of deaths, including many women and children, after a ferry capsized in the Tigris River in Mosul. He said, “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a speedy recovery of those injured. The United States reaffirms its friendship to the people of Iraq and stands with them during this national tragedy.”

U.S. Imposes New U.S. Sanctions in Connection With a Key Iranian Nuclear Organization

On March 22, the Departments of State and the Treasury designated 31 Iranian entities and individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD delivery systems and their supporters. The 14 individuals and 17 entities designated are all linked to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also known by its Persian acronym, SPND.

Secretary Pompeo Comments on the Golan Heights

On March 22, Secretary Pompeo commented on the President’s decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

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.