This Week at State: April 19, 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's Concludes Trip to Western Hemisphere
Secretary Pompeo traveled to Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Cucuta, Colombia, April 11-15. The Secretary’s travel celebrated and reinforced shared commitments to democracy and human rights, highlighted increased opportunities for prosperity and security for our citizens, and rallied support for democracy in Venezuela.
Read more about the Secretary’s trip in this blog.
Venezuela: Secretary Pompeo VIsits Cucuta, State Department Addresses Nicolas Maduro and Corruption and Chaos in Venezuela, U.S. Sanctions Central Bank of Venezuela
During his trip to the Western Hemisphere, Secretary Pompeo made a brief stop in Cucuta, Colombia, on April 14 to visit entities supporting Venezuelan refugees and assess the challenges due to the closed border.
In Cucuta, I saw the assistance being provided by the Colombian Government, NGOs & U.S. partners to Venezuelans fleeing the man-made disaster while dreaming of a more prosperous, free, & stable #Venezuela. A complete return to democracy is the only way forward. #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/eb550JRRbq— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 15, 2019
On April 15, the State Department released a fact sheet outlining ways Venezuela’s former regime, led by Nicolas Maduro, has consistently violated the human rights and dignity of its citizens, plundered the country’s natural resources, and driven a once prosperous nation into economic ruin with his authoritarian rule and socialist economic policies.
On April 16, as a part of our continued effort to halt the former Maduro regime’s theft of Venezuela’s assets and destruction of the economy, the United States sanctioned the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) for operating in the financial sector of the Venezuelan economy, pursuant to Executive Order 13850.
GIST Tech-I Competition Winners Receive Project Funding
The U.S. State Department’s Global Innovations through Science and Technology Initiative (GIST) hosted its Technology Idea (Tech-I) Competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Bahrain, April 14-16. The State Department congratulated the winning finalists who competed in the “idea” stage and twelve in the “startup” stage. The GIST Tech-I pitch competition brings together science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies worldwide, enabling young innovators through networking, skill development, mentoring, and access to financing, to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges.
Secretary Pompeo Travels to Dallas and College Station, Texas, April 14–15.
In Dallas, April 15, Secretary Pompeo met with members of the Iranian-American diaspora community. He solicited their thoughts and discussed issues pertaining to U.S. policy on Iran.
Enjoyed meeting with an impressive group of Iranian-Americans in Dallas. Discussed the IRGC designation as terrorists—which goes in effect today—and the regime’s 40 years of disregard for the people’s needs. The U.S. will always stand with the Iranian people. They deserve better. pic.twitter.com/ToCz72nqDp— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 15, 2019
In College Station, April 15, he delivered remarks at Texas A&M University as part of the Wiley Lecture Series. His remarks highlighted the impact of diplomacy on daily life and made the case to students that a career at the State Department is a powerful way to serve America.
75 International Security Officials Collaborate With U.S. Counterparts To Combat Transnational Crime
International law enforcement, security, counternarcotics, and judicial officials arrived in the United States this week for the fifth annual Towards a More Safe and Secure World International Visitor Leadership Program. Participants from 56 countries will meet with their counterparts in 16 U.S. cities to increase efforts to combat transnational crime and counter terrorism.
U.S. Leaders Comment on Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
On April 15, Secretary Pompeo joined world leaders in commenting on the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Like most Americans watching the tragic fire of Notre Dame Cathedral, I am truly saddened at the devastation and loss of this sacred space. My sincere condolences to the people of France, to Catholics, and to those around the world who have long admired its beauty and history.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 15, 2019
On April 18, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with French Foreign Minister LeDrian about the fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. The Secretary affirmed that the United States is committed to helping France rebuild such a historic and iconic treasure and place of worship.
USAID Administrator Green and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump Visit Ethiopia and Côte d'Ivoire
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green traveled to Ethiopia and Côte d'Ivoire April 14-17. Administrator Green accompanied Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to promote the Women's Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, a White House-led, whole-of-Government approach to advance global women's economic empowerment with a goal of reaching 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.
.@IvankaTrump and @USAIDMarkGreen are in Africa affirming America’s strong commitment to women’s economic empowerment around the world. This is not just a moral imperative — it’s a national security imperative. #WGDP https://t.co/qEKeklxv5t— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 16, 2019
During the trip, Ivanka Trump and Administrator Green announced new W-GDP deliverables, met with women entrepreneurs in the coffee and cocoa industries, as well as other private-sector and bilateral partners to promote the initiative's three core pillars aimed at driving global women's economic empowerment throughout Africa.
Special Representative Biegun’s Travel to Russia
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun traveled to Moscow April 17-18 to meet with Russian officials to discuss efforts to advance the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.
State Department Comments on Indonesia’s Election
In a statement on April 17, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus congratulated the people of Indonesia on holding their first simultaneous presidential and legislative elections on April 17. She said, “The spirited campaigns and robust participation by Indonesia’s public, civil society, and media underscore the strength and dynamism of Indonesia’s democracy.”
Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks on Cuba
On April 17, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks to the press on the United States’ decision to fully implement Title III in Cuba.
Effective May 2, under Title III of the LIBERTAD Act, U.S. citizens will be able to bring lawsuits against persons trafficking in property that was confiscated by the Cuban regime. After more than 22 years of delays, Americans will finally have a chance at justice.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 17, 2019
The Secretary said, “Effective May 2, under Title III of the LIBERTAD Act, U.S. citizens will be able to bring lawsuits against persons trafficking in property that was confiscated by the Cuban regime. After more than 22 years of delays, Americans will finally have a chance at justice.”
For 22+ years, Title III of the LIBERTAD Act was suspended in the hope the Cuban regime would transition to democracy. But the @realDonaldTrump Administration recognizes reality—dictators see appeasement as weakness. President Obama’s attempt to moderate the regime didn’t work.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 17, 2019
U.S. Affirms Support For a Transition to Civilian Rule in Sudan
In a statement on April 18, Spokesperson Ortagus affirmed the United States’ support for a transition to a peaceful and democratic Sudan led by civilians who represent the diversity of Sudanese society. “The will of the Sudanese people is clear: it is time to move toward a transitional government that is inclusive and respectful of human rights and the rule of law,” she said.
Meetings with Global Leaders
On April 18, Secretary Pompeo met with Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates and spoke by phone with France's Foreign Minister Le Drian.
United States and Japan Hold Security Consultative Committee (‘2+2’) Meeting
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan hosted Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya in Washington, D.C., for a Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting April 19.
The U.S.-#Japan Alliance is ironclad, strengthened and adapted over time to defend our freedoms and shared values. From the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific, our partnership will continue to meet every challenge. pic.twitter.com/JCevpIwG61— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 19, 2019
The meeting focused on U.S.-Japan coordination on the evolving regional security environment, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; enhancement of the U.S.-Japan Alliance’s capabilities across conventional and non-conventional domains; and cooperation to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. The participants also discussed the continued realignment of U.S. armed forces in Japan.
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.