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:
U.S. Expresses Concern Over Iranian-backed Houthis Sentencing Political Prisoners to Death in Yemen
In a July 13, 2019 press statement, Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus expressed serious concern over the Iranian-backed Houthis’ July 9 unjust sentencing of 30 political prisoners to death in Sana’a. Among those sentenced were academics and political figures detained on unfounded, politically motivated charges.
The U.S. is seriously concerned by the Iranian-backed #Houthis’ sentencing of 30 political prisoners to death in #Yemen. We urge the Iranian-backed Houthis to retract these sentences, treat detainees humanely, and cease arbitrary detentions. pic.twitter.com/rDsFFIAwUe— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 13, 2019
Secretary Pompeo Discusses Global Issues in Media Interviews
On July 15, Secretary Pompeo discussed Iran, North Korea, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, and the formation of the Unalienable Rights Commission in interviews with Sean Hannity and Tony Perkins. On July 17, Secretary Pompeo participated in interviews with Hugh Hewitt and with Pete Mundo of KCMO Radio.
On July 19, Secretary Pompeo discussed the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, U.S. multilateral engagement, North Korea, and a range of other topics in an interview with Raymond Arroyo of EWTN-TV.
State Department Hosts Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom
On July 16, Secretary Pompeo kicked off the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom with brief remarks. The Ministerial reaffirmed international commitments to promote religious freedom for all and focus on concrete outcomes that produce durable, positive change. A broad range of stakeholders convened to discuss challenges, identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for freedom of religion or belief.
Religious freedom is a foundational American value. It is a universal & unalienable right that should be afforded to all, not just a privileged few. I’m proud to launch today’s #IRFMinisterial because the Trump Administration is committed to making this ideal a reality worldwide. pic.twitter.com/YeA7mrQ2FL— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 16, 2019
On July 17, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks at the State Department’s first-ever International Religious Freedom Awards ceremony to honor extraordinary advocates of religious freedom from around the world.
Privileged to present five extraordinary #religiousfreedom advocates with the @StateDept’s first-ever #IRFAwards today. Their heroic efforts to build bridges & protect vulnerable religious minorities, often at their own personal risk, are an inspiration to us all. pic.twitter.com/SxJI9XQZYT— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 18, 2019
On July 18, Secretary Pompeo delivered the keynote address on the final day of the Ministerial.
.@SecPompeo at the #IRFministerial: #Religiousfreedom is embedded deeply in the American character. But it isn’t exclusively an American idea. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms religious freedom or belief as a universal right. pic.twitter.com/TpVyvyzHLf— Department of State (@StateDept) July 18, 2019
n the margins of the Ministerial, twenty-six faith and community leaders, religious freedom advocates, and social media experts from South and Southeast Asia participated in a new, two-way Professional Fellows On-Demand Program exchange. The three-week exchange program aims to create a network of spiritual and community leaders prepared to use media tools to promote moderation, build tolerance, and prevent conflict.
Honored to have @ECAatState’s #profellows join me in welcoming nearly 1000 leaders from more than 100 delegations for the second #IRFministerial to share their stories on religious persecution and ways to promote greater respect around the world, and advance religious freedom. pic.twitter.com/Z3YH4KHMWf— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 17, 2019
State Department Designates Ali Maychou
On July 16, the State Department, in concern with the Department of Treasure, took action to target Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), a West-African terrorist group designated as both a Foreign Terrorist Organization and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in September 2018. Specifically, the State Department designated Ali Maychou, who holds a leadership role in JNIM, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
Ali Maychou has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Terrorist designations expose and isolate entities and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Read more. https://t.co/PYdPqL85tj— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 16, 2019
U.S. Government Joins Egypt, France, Italy, the UAE, and the UK on Statement on Libya
On July 16, the governments of the United States, Egypt, France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom reiterated their deep concern about ongoing hostilities in Tripoli, called for an immediate de-escalation and halt to the current fighting, and urged the prompt return to the UN-mediated political process.
The U.S. joins Egypt, France, Italy, the UAE, and the UK in calling for halt to the fighting in #Libya and a return to the UN political process. We fully support UN Special Representative Salamé as he works to de-escalate the conflict. https://t.co/BA7KoLuK8U— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 16, 2019
U.S. Comments on the New Government of the Kingdom of Thailand
In a July 16 press statement, Secretary Pompeo noted that the United States looks forward to working with the newly formed Royal Thai government to deepen the alliance and partnership between our two nations, building upon over two centuries of friendship between our people.
The United States looks forward to working with the newly formed Royal #Thai Government. The U.S.-Thailand alliance remains strong as we work together to advance shared goals for security, peace, and prosperity in the #IndoPacific and the world. https://t.co/QawD3SSeX6— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 16, 2019
State Department Designates Burmese Military Officials
On July 16, the State Department designated four Burmese military officials and their immediate family members for their responsibility for gross human rights violations, including in extrajudicial killings in northern Rakhine State, Burma, during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya. A Senior State Department Official further briefed reporters on the designation.
.@StateDeptSPOX on Section 7031c visa restrictions for four senior Burmese generals, including the Commander in Chief, for gross violations of human rights. We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation across #Burma, including in the Rakhine, Kachin, & Shan States. pic.twitter.com/UWe3PdD9bp— EAP Bureau (@USAsiaPacific) July 17, 2019
Meetings with Global Leaders
On July 17, Secretary Pompeo met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa at the State Department.
U.S. Condemns Attack in Erbil
In a July 17 press statement, Secretary Pompeo condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack in Erbil, where at least one Turkish diplomat was murdered. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a speedy recovery of any wounded.
Joint Statement Released from the 8th U.S.-Philippines BIlateral Strategic Dialogue
The Governments of the United States and the Philippines released a statement on the occasion of the July 15-16, 2019 U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue. The Bilateral Strategic Dialogue is the principal forum for discussing the full range of political, security, and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.
Joint Statement from the 8th U.S.-#Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, signed by A/S Stilwell & @DeptofDefense ASD Randall Schriver with @DFAPHL Usec Enrique Manalo & @dndphl Defense Usec Cesar Yano. #FriendsPartnersAllies https://t.co/GlFVOyKXIU pic.twitter.com/xv5AettipF— EAP Bureau (@USAsiaPacific) July 17, 2019
U.S. Diplomacy Center Launches Exhibit on 35 Years of U.S.-Holy See Bilateral Relations
On July 17, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L. Gingrich, inaugurated an exhibit at the U.S. Diplomacy Center in Washington, D.C.
Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan and Senior U.S. Officials Brief NATO Allies on U.S.-Russia Strategic Security Dialogue
On July 18, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, accompanied by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson and National Security Council Senior Director Tim Morrison visited NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium to provide a readout to the North Atlantic Council (NAC) of their recent Strategic Security Dialogue with Russian government officials in Geneva.
.@StateDept Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan has arrived in #Geneva. He will lead the U.S. delegation in a July 17 U.S.-Russia strategic security dialogue with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov. https://t.co/ByhP2KKwzV pic.twitter.com/fiXXC2INtK— U.S. Mission Geneva (@usmissiongeneva) July 16, 2019
The dialogue is a continuation of U.S. and Russian discussions on a broad range of strategic security issues. During the briefing to the NAC, the Deputy Secretary underscored the importance of modernizing nuclear arms control in line with the President’s vision for a new direction.
U.S. Commemorates 25th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society
In a press statement on July 18, Spokesperson Ortagus commented on the 25th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires. She said, “We remember the 85 men, women, and children murdered that day, and the over 300 who were injured, and express our support to their families, their friends, and the Argentine nation. We also remember the victims of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. Both attacks, perpetrated by Hizballah at the direction of the Iranian regime, targeted the Jewish community and affected all those who support democratic values.”
State and Defense Departments Co-Host Meeting on the Maritime Security Initiative
On July 19, the State Department and the Department of Defense co-hosted a discussion with members of the diplomatic corps about the Maritime Security Initiative. The initiative will focus on safeguarding freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Middle East.
The United States Sanctions Maduro-aligned Officials of Venezuela’s Military Counterintelligence Agency Priority
On July 19, the United States sanctioned four officials of the Maduro-aligned General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, known as DGCIM, pursuant to E.O. 13692, as amended, for being current or former Maduro-aligned officials. They are Division General Rafael Ramon Blanco Marrero, Colonel Hannover Esteban Guerrero Mijare, Major Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga, and Colonel Rafael Antonio Franco Quintero.
Today the U.S. sanctioned four officials of Maduro’s secret intelligence agency, DGCIM, who are accused of human rights abuses. The US stands by the people of #Venezuela, @JGuaido & @AsambleaVE until democracy & freedom are restored. #EstamosUnidosVE https://t.co/Q9z0NcFt74— Department of State (@StateDept) July 19, 2019
Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, and Florida
On July 18, Secretary Pompeo departed on a trip to Latin America, making his first stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On July 19, in Buenos Aires, Secretary Pompeo participated in and delivered remarks at the second Counterterrorism Ministerial. This Ministerial will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Iran-backed attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured more than 300.
Sobered by the weight of loss as we remember the 85 killed and more than 300 injured in the #AMIAattacks. They were killed by members of Hizballah, who sought not only to murder as many Jews as possible, but to stoke fear in the hearts of all Jews and all Argentinians. pic.twitter.com/n6wPjYOjMR— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 19, 2019
Today’s second Counterterrorism Ministerial is an important step in bolstering flexible, effective multilateralism to address threats from transnational terrorist groups. We are committed to working with partners as we address the threats and gaps that terrorist groups exploit. pic.twitter.com/Wu2hzXgXxT— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 19, 2019
While in Buenos Aires, the Secretary also met individually with Argentine President Macri, Chilean Foreign Minister Ribera, and Bahamian Foreign Minister Henfield to reinforce our partnerships in advancing citizen security, expanding trade and investment, and promoting democratic governance.
The Secretary will continue on to Guayaquil, Ecuador; Mexico City, Mexico; and San Salvador, El Salvador through July 21, 2019. His meetings will further strengthen our partnerships within the Western Hemisphere on regional and global challenges.
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.