This Week at State: May 3, 2019

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This Week at State: May 3, 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 Participated in The Hill’s Newsmaker Series

On April 29, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo participated in a conversation on the Administration’s foreign policy priorities with The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack as part of The Hill’s Newsmaker Series. The Secretary’s remarks covered a number of global issues, including the State Department’s efforts to restore democracy for the people of Venezuela, efforts to counter terrorism, and Prersident Trump’s South-Central Asia strategy.

Meetings with Global Leaders

On April 29, Secretary Pompeo met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström at the Department of State.

On May 1, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Special Representative for Syria Engagement Travels to Turkey and Switzerland

From April 30 to May 2, Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ambassador James Jeffrey traveled to Ankara, Turkey for meetings. Ambassador Jeffrey led an interagency delegation to continue discussions with senior Turkish officials on Syria, address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns, and promote stability and security in northern Syria as the U.S. military draws down its presence.

Secretary Pompeo Receives the Business Executives for National Security Eisenhower Award

On April 30, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks as he received the Business Executives for National Security’s 2019 Eisenhower Award. Secretary Pompeo highlighted the situation in Venezuela and the importance of protecting the Venezuelan people, and discussed the challenges posed by working with China.

U.S. Condemns Iranian Regime’s Crackdown on Women Activists

In a press statement on April 30, Spokesperson Ortagus condemned the Iranian regime’s growing crackdown on women advocating for their human rights

U.S. Expresses Concern About Increased Violence in Northwest Syria

In a press statement on April 30, Spokesperson Ortagus expressed alarm at the escalation of violence in Idlib and northern Hama. She stated, “The violence must end. The United States reiterates that any escalation in violence in northwest Syria will result in the destabilization of the region. We call on all parties, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to abide by their commitments to avoid large scale military offensives, return to a de-escalation of violence in the area, and allow for unhindered humanitarian access to address the humanitarian disaster created by the ongoing violence.”

State Department Remembers Senator Richard Lugar

On April 30,  Spokesperson Ortagus acknowledged the death of Senator Richard Lugar, who was well known for his contributions to the diplomatic history of the United States, particularly in the field of non-proliferation.

State Department Celebrates 40 Years of Peace Between Egypt and Israel

On April 30, Secretary Pompeo hosted a ceremony to celebrate and commemorate 40 years of peace between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel. In a press statement, Spokesperson Ortagus discussed the treaty and shared a readout of this ceremony.  

State Department Hosts United Nations Counterterrorism Executive Directorate

On April 30, Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, welcomed United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General Michele Coninsx and the team from the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) to Washington, D.C. for its first official assessment visit of the United States. While in the U.S., the CTED team will meet with officials across the U.S. government to discuss the measures the United States is taking to counter terrorist threats.

United States Affirms Support for the People of Venezuela 

On April 30, U.S. government leaders reiterated their support for the people of Venezuela, following Interim President Juan Guaido's announcement of the start of Operación Libertad.

On April 30, Secretary Pompeo spoke with Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Bret Baier of Fox News, and on May 1 with Maria Bartiromo of Mornings with Maria on Fox Business Network on the United States’ continuing support of the National Assembly and their interim President Juan Guaido. Secretary Pompeo stated, “We will hold accountable those who turn to violence or inflict violence upon the Venezuelan people. So there will be a day for accountability for all those who engage in this, and we’re encouraging all the parties on the ground to solve – resolve this peacefully. This is a duly elected leader, interim leader, Juan Guaido, and it should be a political process for free and fair elections that should lead to the handover of all of the power inside of Venezuela.”

On May 1, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, where he stressed that the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship. In an interview With Maria Bartiromo of Mornings With Maria on Fox Business Network, the Secretary discussed developments in Venezuela this week.

State Department Announces Secretary Pompeo's Travel to Rovaniemi, Berlin, London, and Nuuk

The State Department announced that Secretary Pompeo will travel to Rovaniemi, Finland; Berlin, Germany; London, UK; and Nuuk, Greenland, May 5-9.

Read more about the Secretary’s upcoming trip in this DipNote blog, and follow @SecPompeo and @StateDept on Twitter for updates.

U.S. Condemns Reports of Secret Executions of Minors in Iran

In a press statement on May 1, Spokesperson Ortagus expressed the United States’ dismay regarding the Iranian regime’s appalling secret execution of two 17-year old males, Mehdi Shohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, as reported by Amnesty International.

U.S. Welcomes United Nations 1267 Sanctions Committee Designation of Masood Azhar

In a press statement on May 1, Spokesperson Ortagus welcomed the addition of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) leader Masood Azhar to the United Nations’ (UN) 1267 ISIL and al-Qaida Sanctions list. This listing requires all UN member states to implement an asset freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Azhar. We expect all countries to uphold these obligations. The Spokesperson said, “Today’s designation is an important step in promoting a peaceful and stable South Asia. In line with this vision, we appreciate Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s stated commitment that Pakistan, for the sake of its own future, will not allow militant and terrorist groups to operate from its territory.”

United States Congratulates Poland on Its National Constitution Day

In a statement on May 2, Secretary Pompeo extend congratulations and best wishes to the people of Poland on the occasion of their 228th Constitution Day. He stated,  “It was an honor for me to have visited Poland earlier this year and to see the tremendous progress the country has made since the collapse of communism and return of freedom 30 years ago. I look forward to marking this and several other important anniversaries in 2019 with our Polish Allies and friends as we continue to strengthen the strategic partnership between our two countries.”

United States and Japan Release Joint Statement on Science and Technology Cooperation

On May 2, following the Joint High-Level Committee Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation, the governments of the United States of America and Japan released a joint statement  underscoring our shared goal of continuing to advance science and technology cooperation and further strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship,

Secretary Pompeo Addresses State Department’s Foreign Affairs Day

On May 3, Secretary Pompeo delivered the keynote address at the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Day for active and retired employees of the Department of State and other Foreign Affairs Agencies.

Secretary Pompeo also delivered remarks paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country around the world  at the American Foreign Service Association Memorial Plaque Ceremony. The AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony honors those who have lost their lives while serving overseas due to circumstances distinctive to the Foreign Service, including acts of violence or terrorism.

Secretary Pompeo delivers remarks at the American Foreign Service Association Memorial Plaque Ceremony.

Secretary Pompeo Comments on World Press Freedom Day

In a statement on May 3, Secretary Pompeo said, “On World Press Freedom Day, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting safety and freedom for members of the press. A free and independent media is indispensable to a vibrant, functioning democracy. Despite some progress, journalists around the world continue to be persecuted, targeted with violence, or even killed – all too often with impunity.”

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.