This Week at State: November 22, 2019

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This Week at State: November 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:

State Department Designates Cuban Minister of the Interior

On November 16, the State Department publicly designated Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, Minister of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT) due to his involvement, by command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights in Venezuela.

“The United States continues to support the Cuban and Venezuelan people, and the Department implements this designation with that goal in mind.  The Castro regime’s repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms in both Cuba and Venezuela necessitates worldwide concern and a louder international call to action.“ - Secretary Pompeo

State Department Celebrates International Education Week

From November 18-22, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education celebrated International Education Week (IEW) by encouraging Americans to seek opportunities to study abroad and welcoming international students to study in the United States. To open IEW, the State Department, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, released the annual Open Doors report of data and trends in international academic mobility.

Secretary Pompeo Congratulates Sri Lanka on Elections

In a November 18 press statement, Secretary Pompeo congratulated the people of Sri Lanka on their democratic election. The United States stands ready to work with Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the new President of Sri Lanka. 

State Department Designates Kenya’s Former Attorney General

On November 18, the State Department publicly designated former Kenyan Attorney General Amos Sitswila Wako due to his involvement in significant corruption. This action sends a strong signal that the United States is a valuable partner in Kenya’s fight against corruption. In a statement, Secretary Pompeo said, “Today’s action sends a strong signal that the United States is a valuable partner in Kenya’s fight against corruption.  Economic prosperity for all Kenyans is only possible by defeating the scourge of corruption, which also requires a functional, fair, and transparent criminal justice system.”

U.S. Designates ISIS Facilitators

On November 18, the United States sanctioned nine individuals and organizations who were providing material support to ISIS in the Middle East and South Asia. ISIS remains a threat to global security and stability, and the United States continues to work closely with the countries of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (D-ISIS) to ensure we are protecting our people from this heinous terrorist group.

Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks to the Media

On November 18, Secretary Pompeo delivered statements to the press on protests in Iran; U.S. commitment to Iraq; the Administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements; Hong Kong protests; and, Bolivia’s expulsion of Cuban officials.

State Department Holds Ninth Semi-Annual Professional Fellows Congress

On November 19, the State Department convened 292 emerging leaders from 63 countries in Washington, D.C., as the fall 2019 Professional Fellows concluded their intensive fellowships with U.S. businesses, government offices, and non-profit organizations.

Secretary Pompeo Welcomes Release of Kevin King and Timothy Weeks

In a press statement on November 19, Secretary Pompeo welcomed the release of Professors Kevin King and Timothy Weeks by the Taliban. The Taliban have indicated that the release of the two professors is intended as a goodwill gesture, which the United States welcomes. The United States commends President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan government for advancing that goal while simultaneously working to strengthen and reform Afghanistan’s security forces.

Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Brussels

From November 19-21, Secretary Pompeo traveled to Brussels, Belgium, to attend the NATO Ministerial and to meet with key NATO Allies. 

On November 20, Secretary Pompeo led the U.S. delegation to the NATO Foreign Ministerial. There, he met with NATO Allies, including Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the December NATO Leaders’ Meeting in London to discuss important deliverables, including burden sharing and collective defense. The delegation also discussed continued cooperation among NATO members to face emerging security challenges and threats such as terrorism and energy security.

Secretary Pompeo Recognizes Belarus Parliamentary Elections

In a November 20 press statement, Secretary Pompeo recognized the peaceful conduct of the November 17 parliamentary elections in Belarus and the high number of accredited local and international observers. However, election observation missions jointly concluded that “fundamental freedoms were disregarded and the integrity of the election process was not adequately safeguarded.” 

Secretary Pompeo Honors Heroes in 1979 Attack on U.S. Embassy Islamabad

On November 20, Secretary Pompeo honored the four members of the Embassy team killed in the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Secretary Pompeo offered sympathies to the families of the victims and pledged to honor their memory. 

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Travels to Nagoya for G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

On November 21-24, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to Nagoya, Japan, to lead the U.S. delegation to the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The G20 is the premier multilateral forum for international economic policy coordination, comprising 19 countries and the European Union.

Ortega Regime’s Refusal to Allow Relief to Hunger Strikers in Masaya Church

In a November 21 press statement, the U.S. government expressed its deep concern for the health and safety of Nicaraguan political prisoners’ family members who are under siege at the San Miguel Archangel Church in Masaya and on the eighth day of a hunger strike.  

Support for  the Transitional Government in Bolivia

In a November 21 press statement, the United States recognized the importance of Bolivia’s political transition to democracy in our hemisphere, and admired the Bolivian people for standing up for their constitution, their democracy, and for free, fair, and transparent elections.

U.S. Delegation to Manama Dialogue

The Department of State is part of the official U.S. delegation traveling to Bahrain for the November 22-24 International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue: 15th Regional Security Summit. The Manama Dialogue is an important opportunity to discuss regional issues and advance U.S. priorities. 

U.S. – Turkmenistan Annual Bilateral Consultations

On November 20, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells conducted the U.S.-Turkmenistan Annual Bilateral Consultations with a delegation of Government of Turkmenistan officials led by Foreign Minister Meredov. The Annual Bilateral Consultations are a structured policy dialogue designed to build mutual trust and advance our common agenda and opportunities for cooperation across the full range of bilateral and regional issues.

Congratulations to New Canadian Foreign Minister and Cabinet

In a November 21 press statement, Secretary Pompeo congratulated The Honorable François-Philippe Champagne on his appointment as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The Secretary said, "I look forward to working together as partners and allies on the international stage to advance issues of mutual importance and to sustaining the United States-Canada relationship, one of the closest and most extensive bilateral relationships in the world."

Special Briefing on Religious Freedom

On November 21, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback gave a special briefing on religious freedom.  

Attack on al-Qah IDP Camp in Northern Syria

In a November 21 press statement, the United States strongly condemned the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks on the al-Qah camp for internally displaced persons in northern Idlib. Munitions targeting civilians exploded 25 meters from the Qah Maternity Hospital, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring at least 50 other people. She stated, “The Assad regime, enabled by its Russian and Iranian sponsors, must end its murderous campaign against the Syrian people and stop waging war in civilian areas. There can be no peaceful future in Syria without guarantees that those responsible for these brutal acts are held accountable.”

Lebanon National Day

On November 22, Secretary Pompeo congratulated the people of Lebanon as they celebrated their Independence Day. The United States stands ready to work with a new Lebanese government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens and has the capacity and political will to build a stable, prosperous, independent, and secure Lebanon for all.

Meetings with Global Leaders

On November 18, Secretary Pompeo met with Republic of Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

On November 19, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.

On November 21, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha

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.