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. Welcomes Release of 35 Ukrainians Held by Russia
In a press statement on September 8, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news of the release of 35 Ukrainians held by Russia, in exchange for 35 prisoners held by Ukraine. The United States calls on Russia to immediately release all other Ukrainians, including members of the Crimean Tatar community, who remain unjustly imprisoned.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan Lead U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue
On September 9, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan led a U.S. interagency delegation to participate in the second high-level U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue in Vienna, Austria, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for counterterrorism Oleg Vladimirovich Syromolotov.
State Department Publicly Designates Officials of the Investigative Committee in the Russian Federation
On September 10, the State Department publicly designated Vladimir Petrovich Yermolayev, the Head of the Investigative Committee in Surgut, Russia, and Stepan Vladimirovich Tkach, Senior Investigator at the Investigative Committee in Surgut, under Section 7031(c) of the FY2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to their involvement in gross violations of human rights. The Department has credible information that Yermolayev and Tkach were involved in torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of punishment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Surgut.
U.S. Comments on Religious Freedom in Cuba
In a press statement on September 10, Spokesperson Ortagus noted that many Cubans and Cuban Americans had recently celebrated the Feast of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba, and called on the Cuban regime to end its repression of the Cuban people, including its suppression of religious freedom.
U.S. Rolls Out Modernization of Executive Order 13224 on Counterterrorism
On September 10, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order modernizing and expanding sanctions to combat terrorism. This Executive Order enhances the United States’ ability to target and deprive terrorists and their enablers of financial, material, and logistical support worldwide.
Honored to announce the most significant modernization of terrorist designation authorities since the 9/11 attacks today at the @WhiteHouse. The updated version of E.O. 13224 allows the U.S to rapidly react to threats by cutting terrorists off from the U.S. financial system.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 10, 2019
Implementing these new authorities, the State Department designated Hurras al-Din, an al-Qa’ida affiliated group in Syria, as well as 12 leaders of previously designated groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).
State Departments Launches Inaugural Program on Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Economic Participation
On September 10, the State Department welcomed the 18 participants of the inaugural International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) “W-GDP: Overcoming Barriers to Women’s Economic Participation.” The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), established by the White House and championed by Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, is the first whole-of-government approach to empower women globally to fulfill their economic potential.
Excited to welcome 18 leaders from around the world for our inaugural #WGDP International Visitors Leadership Program on overcoming barriers to women’s economic participation! https://t.co/QKed9OvdrK pic.twitter.com/mbwt2ejMtd— Marie Royce (@ECA_AS) September 11, 2019
U.S. Remembers 9/11
On September 11, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks honoring the victims of 9/11 at a Commemoration Ceremony. Secretary Pompeo stated, “On behalf of the United States, I am grateful for those who 18 years ago offered their love and support for our country. And for us here today, may we honor the victims through the defense of our homeland. May our lifelong remembrance comfort their families, and may our work, our diplomacy, uphold security and freedom.”
The events of 9/11 shook our nation to its core. But the pain & sorrow that day gave life to a new love for our fellow Americans, & all fellow human beings. Today we honor those we lost and ensure future generations #neverforget this tragedy or doubt our astonishing resilience. pic.twitter.com/yUiVrz8cpM— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 11, 2019
U.S. Joins Interim Government of Venezuela in Invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
On September 11, the United States joined the Interim Government of Venezuela and ten other countries in invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR). This Venezuelan-led request is proof of the region’s support for the Venezuelan people and recognition of the increasingly destabilizing influence that the former regime of Nicolas Maduro is having on the region.
The U.S. joins 11 partner nations in invoking the Rio Treaty to confront the political, economic, & humanitarian crisis unleashed by Maduro on #Venezuela & the region. Together we will consider multilateral economic & political options to end the havoc. https://t.co/COIIcIEWav— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 11, 2019
U.S. and Portugal Release Joint Statement on the 41st Meeting of the Standing Bilateral Commission
United States of America and the Portuguese Republic released a joint statement to announce the outcomes of the biannual Standing Bilateral Commission meeting, which held its 41st session on September 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
Secretary Pompeo Comments On the Passing of Former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie
In a statement on September 12, Secretary Pompeo said, “I want to convey my deepest condolences to former President B.J. Habibie’s family and the people of Indonesia on his passing. President Habibie led his country and people through a key period of Indonesia’s remarkable democratic transition, and made lasting contributions to Indonesia’s economic development, including through his commitment to promoting science and technology.”
Troika Statement on the One-Year Anniversary of the Signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan
The Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway released a joint statement on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the republic of South Sudan to reconfirm support for the peace process and to underscore the need to implement the terms of the agreement in a timely manner.
State Department, University of Virginia, and Concordia Announce Finalists for 2019 P3 Impact Award
On September 12, Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society, and Concordia announced five finalists for the 2019 P3 Impact Award. The Award recognizes exemplary public-private partnerships (P3s) that provide solutions to pressing issues in areas such as economic growth and development, sustainability, and global health. The winner of the P3 Impact Award, along with an Audience Choice winner, will be announced at the Concordia Summit taking place September 22-24, 2019, in New York City.
Secretary Pompeo Comments on Submission of the Congressional Report Under the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act
On September 12, the President submitted the first congressional report mandated under the Elie Wiesel Act. It provides an overview of the United States Government’s current and planned efforts to prevent, mitigate, and respond to mass atrocities globally. In a statement following thos submission, Secretary Pompeo said, “Preventing human rights violations and abuses, including atrocities, is fundamental to American values and the diplomatic efforts undertaken by the Department of State around the world. We are pleased to continue the United States’ global leadership on this issue.”
Secretary Pompeo Comments on the Passing of Tongan Prime Minister Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva
In a statement on September 13, Secretary Pompeo extended sincerest condolences to the people of Tonga on the passing of Prime Minister Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.
The United States and Guinea Sign Open Skies Agreement
On September 13, the United States and Guinea signed the Air Transport Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Guinea.
The Agreement establishes a modern civil aviation relationship with Guinea, consistent with U.S. Open Skies international aviation policy.
Meetings with Global Leaders
Secretary Pompeo Addresses the Concerned Women for America 40th Anniversary Luncheon
On September 13, Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks on the importance of protecting religious freedom around the world at the Concerned Women for America 40th Anniversary Luncheon. The Secretary said, “our administration, recognizes it as our country’s first freedom, and it’s found at the very top of the Bill of Rights...And we believe that advancing it is in our foreign policy interest, whether it’s popular or not.”
Secretary Pompeo Announces Public Designation of Kale Kayihura of Uganda Due to Gross Violations of Human Rights
On September 13, Secretary Pompeo announced the State Department is publicly designating Kale Kayihura, the former Inspector General of the Uganda Police Force and its commanding officer from 2005-2018, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.
U.S. and Canada Conclude of the Eighth Round of Negotiations to Modernize the Columbia River Treaty Regime
The United States and Canada held the eighth round of negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime September 10-11 in Cranbrook, British Columbia. The negotiating teams discussed issues related to ecosystem cooperation, flood risk management, and hydropower.
State Department Launches Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy Initiative
On September 13 2019, the U.S. Department of State launched a new initiative called “Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy.” Over the coming year, the Department of State will highlight modern-day “Heroes Among Us,” alongside heroes from our Department’s rich history. These heroes have displayed sound policy judgment, as well as intellectual, moral and even physical courage while advancing U.S. foreign policy goals.
Earlier today @SecPompeo recognized Elizabeth “Lizzie” Slater, the first of the #HeroesofUSDiplomacy, for her work following the 1998 embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. https://t.co/mrMtKP9x05 pic.twitter.com/n6O5SOwVKH— Department of State (@StateDept) September 13, 2019
Secretary Pompeo recognized the first of these individuals Elizabeth “Lizzie” Slater her actions following the embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998 as she helped re-build the communications systems for both embassies.
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.