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Press Releases: Background Briefing Previewing Acting Secretary Sullivan's Trip to the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Toronto

il y a 3 heures 16 min
Special Briefing Senior Administration Official
Toronto, Canada
April 22, 2018

MODERATOR: [Senior Administration Official] has got a couple of minutes just to give you a little background today.

QUESTION: Oh, terrific. Well, what’s on the agenda?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What’s on the agenda? Well, the G-7 always has an ambitious agenda, and a comprehensive global agenda. And a lot of the priority topics for us today include discussing the way forward in Syria, the – Iran’s malign activities in the region as well as Iran’s nuclear and missile program. We’ll be discussing North Korea and its nuclear program. I would say, broadly, nonproliferation will be a thematic today in our discussions. We will be discussing maritime security, the importance of freedom of navigation.

QUESTION: Talking South China Sea or --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, just South China Sea and just generally securing the global commons for trade and commerce. And we’ll also be discussing the free and open Indo-Pacific and the importance of that. We’ll be discussing also the way forward in Ukraine. Venezuela we will also be discussing, and Burma.

So this is just probably a fraction of what we’ll end up discussing today, and I’ll be able to give a little more detail at the end of the day.

QUESTION: That would be helpful.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is --

QUESTION: As (inaudible) the topics, did you see Zarif’s comments the last two days on if the deal isn’t signed – this morning he was about – he was saying it was --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Which one, the supplemental agreement? When you say the deal isn’t --

QUESTION: He just said – I don’t know.

QUESTION: The original one. The original one.

QUESTION: The original deal.

QUESTION: If the U.S. --

QUESTION: The original one. If the original is abrogated, yeah.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Abrogated? Oh.

QUESTION: Yeah, if the U.S. walks away from it, they are going to resume --

QUESTION: He said it would send a very dangerous message.

QUESTION: -- and he said they’re going to resume nuclear production.

QUESTION: Resuming is one of the options, is what he said.

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: But faster.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And so what’s the question? It’s all very interesting.

QUESTION: Does that change anything that you’re discussing today? I mean, are you – let’s – what kinds of discussions are you going to have on Iran with the rest of the G7? Specifically, do you want to close – can you close further gaps in your discussions so far?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We will be discussing the status of the negotiations with the E3 on securing a supplemental agreement to the JCPOA. The President has given until May 12th as the deadline to see if we can secure a supplemental agreement, and so we’ll be discussing the status of those negotiations today with the G7, and then we’ll also be – yeah, I’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION: How advanced are these?

MODERATOR: You all, you guys have to get on the vans. I don’t want you to be late. This will be the last one.

QUESTION: Those negotiations, how advanced are they?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We’ve been negotiating with the Europeans since January, with the E3, and we have made a great deal of progress, but it is – we’re not there yet.

QUESTION: Really?

QUESTION: You still don’t know?

MODERATOR: Guys, we've got to go.

QUESTION: Real quick, though. OPCW inspectors got into Douma. Are you concerned that everything, all the evidence has evaporated and that they won’t be able to find anything at this late date?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would – I’d have to talk to the technical folks on that as well. That’s a technical question and I’d need to --

QUESTION: Okay.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay? All right.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So see you at the end of the day.


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Press Releases: Acting Secretary Sullivan's Meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Klimkin

il y a 18 heures 8 min
Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 21, 2018

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:

Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on April 21, on the margins of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Toronto, Canada.

The Acting Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He urged Ukraine to redouble reform efforts and adhere to IMF programs by adopting legislation to establish a truly independent anti-corruption court and raising gas tariffs to import parity levels.

Acting Secretary Sullivan and Foreign Minister Klimkin called on Russia to finally fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements and end its occupation of Crimea.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Yamamoto Travel to East Africa

sam, 04/21/2018 - 18:09
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 21, 2018

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Donald Y. Yamamoto will travel to Eritrea from April 22-24 for bilateral consultations with Eritrean government officials, to meet with the diplomatic community, and to visit the Embassy’s staff based in Asmara. He will then lead the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Djibouti Binational Forum April 24-25 in Djibouti, our annual dialogue on matters of political, economic, assistance, and security cooperation. Ambassador Yamamoto will travel to Ethiopia on April 26 to meet with Ethiopian government officials to discuss shared interests and concerns.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Briefing on the Release of the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

ven, 04/20/2018 - 22:04
Special Briefing Michael G. Kozak
Ambassador, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC
April 20, 2018

MS NAUERT: Ambassador Kozak will take some of your questions, and I’ll kick off those questions. So thank you very much. One second. Sir, come on up. Thank you.

Let’s start our first question with the Associated Press’s Matt Lee.

QUESTION: Thank you. I realize that this report doesn’t cover the United States and – but in this preface and in his comments just now, Acting Secretary Sullivan talked about how the U.S. is promoting – promotes and defends rights, and that that’s central to us as a country, and that the United States will lead other nations by example in promoting rule of law and respect for human rights.

And I’m just wondering how effective you think that you can be in leading by example when you take – you accuse numerous – there – a lot of countries of, say, assaults on press freedom when here, in this country, we have a President who routinely excoriates the press, calling individual media outlets – and individual reporters sometimes – fake news. I’m wondering how you can criticize countries for discrimination against LGBT people when this administration’s stated policy is to exclude transgender people from serving in the military. I’m wondering about discrimination of – criticism of other countries for discriminating against religious minorities when courts and a lot of critics see the travel ban as, in fact, a ban on one particular religion. And lastly, you criticize countries for the mistreatment and refoulement of refugees, which I suppose this administration is not in that great of a position to do because it doesn’t accept hardly any refugees, or at least far fewer than it ever did before.

So how is this not – how do you not open yourself up to charges of hypocrisy, and how effective do you think you can be at leading by example? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Okay, let’s see if I can remember each one of those. But I think as you go through the report, you’ll see the countries that we criticize for limiting press freedom, it’s for things like having criminal libel laws where you can be put in jail for what you say. It’s for things like yanking the licenses of media outlets you don’t like or, in many cases, killing the journalists. So I think we make quite a distinction between political leaders being able to speak out and say that that story was not accurate or using even stronger words sometimes, and using state power to prevent the journalists from continuing to do their work. So I think there’s an example there, and we’ve used that with many of our colleagues.

The other end of your stream was refoulement, which is a legal term. It’s sending somebody back to a place where they are – where you know they’re going to be persecuted or where they have a well-founded fear of persecution without going through due process to assess the risk to them. And of course, our law provides that people have rights of appeal through the immigration courts system and into the federal courts if they think they’re going to be. So it doesn’t go to the quantity of refugees; it goes to whether you’re --

QUESTION: Right, I understand. But you’re not in a position if you even wanted to refoule a refugee, you don’t have many to do it to. But it’s also mistreatment of refugees. It’s not just that. So --

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Yeah, and that usually involves, as you’ll find documented in many countries in the report, physical mistreatment of refugees and that kind of thing. Your --

QUESTION: LGBT.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: LGBT. As we are very clear in the reports, and this has been U.S. policy for some time, the things we’re focused on are is: Has the government in question criminalized same-sex sexual activity, and that’s highlighted now right up front in the reports; have they failed to prevent violence against people because of their LGBT status, or the same applies to ethnic groups and religious and so on; and then, third, discrimination in housing, employment, and government services. Usually, military and police are a slightly different form of government employment. So you can have a debate about that one, but most of the other countries where we’re criticizing them, I think we would be very happy if they were following the procedures we are.

There are a lot of policy decisions in these areas that governments make that aren’t internationally recognized human rights, so that’s where we try to distinguish. And that’s not – that’s nothing new. That’s been the case in the last couple of administrations as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS NAUERT: Michelle from CNN.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’d like to know if you think that such statements in the United States weaken the impact of this report, because the American President has called the press an enemy of the people. And I think at one point he called for a closer look at libel laws or something like that. Do you think in the eyes of people that are looking at this report, as an example and as a resource, do statements like that currently weaken its impact?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, I think the report is very clear about the kinds of things that we consider to be inappropriate restrictions on freedom of the media – as I mentioned, using the legal system to go after members of the press, using physical force and so on. It doesn’t go to the nature of discourse in a country. And you can have your own judgments as to how – how strong a statement might or might not be, but I don’t – I don’t think we have a hard time explaining that in a lot of places. When you talk to some of my friends in Cuba, for example, who try to be independent journalists there and are routinely slapped around, they also get called names, but they – I think if it were limited to that they’d be pretty happy as compared to the situation now. So --

QUESTION: And when the State Department is talking about this represents our values as Americans, the removal of sections on women’s reproductive rights – why is that not included in values as Americans?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: There’s still a long section on women. And by the way, if you look elsewhere in the report, I mean, women are also activists, are also journalists. There are – yeah, now --

QUESTION: Understood. But it’s so conspicuous that it’s removed.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Let me – now, it was – I’m going to explain why it was removed. It was introduced six years ago into the report. It hadn’t been there before. The – it’s one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term.

And in this case, the previous administration intended it to mean look at the availability of contraception, at the – whether the government tried to impose or coerce people in making decisions about reproduction. In the statements that were made – this was derived from the Beijing Declaration that was done in the ‘90s.

At that time, it was very clear and our delegation made a very clear statement that this has nothing to do with abortion, it doesn’t mean abortion, it doesn’t mean abortion. Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it.

So our thought was let’s just not use a term that has the opposite meaning from the one we intend. We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is coerced family planning, namely coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

I might mention too, because I went back and looked at last year’s report, the question being asked was, “Were there obstacles opposed to getting contraception information and means?” The answer in virtually every country was no, there were no obstacles other than, in almost every country, including our own, the availability in rural areas is less than it is in urban areas. But we were taking a lot of space to explain that.

So what we’ve done, we’ve kept that information in there. We’ve done it now by a hyperlink. We used to take that information from the WHO report and put it in. We said let’s just use a hyperlink, and then there’s actually more information available that way.

So that’s the rationale behind that. It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it; it was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Dave Clark from AFP.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you very much. When countries around the world are looking at the U.S. for leadership on human rights, should they be looking at this report, or should they be looking at President Trump’s embrace of Rodrigo Duterte, of meeting with Sisi, and with the very warm relations with Mohammed bin Salman, who runs a country where women have no rights at all? Is – what sends the stronger signal, the President’s close personal friendship with Xi Jinping and his golf tours at Mar-a-Lago or you at that podium decrying human rights abuses?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, this is a official report, and by the way, I think it’s one of the most widely read U.S. Government documents in the world when we do the hit counts on the internet. It’s put out in the name of the Secretary of State, who was just here to deliver it, and he certainly is reflecting the President in this.

I think this is showing what we assess to be the human rights situation in all of the countries you’ve just mentioned, including – now even more so – the responsibility of the government for the abuses that are occurring there. They’re not – we’re not just saying there are these societal problems in the country; we’re saying the government either has done these bad deeds or not. And I’ll give you some examples.

In Russia we highlighted the fact – their response to an increase in domestic violence there – and they have a terrible problem, I mean tens of thousands of deaths of women being killed in domestic disputes every year. But since it went up, the government spokesman who went into the State Duma said, “Well, we have to decriminalize this, because it’s better that our women be beaten than that our men be humiliated by their behavior.” So – and this was Putin’s party, they decriminalized spousal beating. So not a very good thing.

Now, does that mean that the President should never speak to these people? This is what – we’re trying to keep the report as the factual baseline for what we’re going to do in policy terms or sanctions as the secretary was mentioning. So we can learn a lot from this, and we can use it to formulate a policy. But usually part of your policy is engaging with the people whose behavior you’re trying to change at some level. And I don’t think those two things are in distinction. The fact is, these other governments and their populations do read the report, and I don’t think they discount it because the President speaks with their leader or otherwise. And when the President speaks to their leader, often he’s talking about these issues, so it’s – it’s complementary, it’s not a – two things that are in conflict

QUESTION: Since we’re citing examples, what does Saudi law say about spousal abuse?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Saudi law is very, very restrictive on women. We’ve tried to encourage changes in that, we’ve seen the minor changes that are reflected in the report, that they’ve started to say they’re going to allow women to drive cars and so on. That isn’t very much, but it is a baby step in the right direction, and we’re trying to encourage more of that kind of reform at the same time that we’re calling out the areas in which they’re deficient, which are many.

MS NAUERT: All right, Rich Hudson from Fox News.

QUESTION: Thanks, Heather. Ambassador, I want to follow up a little bit on Saudi Arabia, the conversation you were just having with Dave. You note in the report – and a lot has happened on the government level in Saudi Arabia in just the past year, and you note in the report the jailing or hoteling of 200 officials there.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Yep. Hoteling, that’s a good – (laughter).

QUESTION: Are you – overall, in Saudi Arabia, are you encouraged by some of the things that are happening? Are you discouraged by what’s happened over the last year? Where do you see the trend going in Saudi Arabia?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, of course it’s always hard to predict trends, but I think – I’m always encouraged when you start to see things break out of a static holding pattern. When you see a little bit of change as we’re seeing in Saudi Arabia, and the hoteling was connected to – ostensibly anyway – to more of concern about corruption, which is not – another one of our issues, insofar as corruption and human rights abuse seem to – tend to go together.

So we’re trying to encourage that kind of movement on the part of the Saudis. At the same time, you can look at that and say, “Well, you didn’t do this with sufficient due process,” and I think that’s also well spelled-out here. So it’s trying to get that right balance of, hey here’s where we think you’re deficient, but we’re seeing some movement and we’re trying to encourage the movement in the positive direction and see more. But I’m usually more encouraged when I see some movement going on than when things are just stuck in the same rut for years and years and years. So in that sense, at least there’s an opportunity there. We’ll see if it comes to anything.

QUESTION: So is hoteling now going to be standard language in --

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: I think your colleague just came up with a new term with --

MS NAUERT: Cindy with Voice of America. We have a few minutes left.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. We were talking about press freedoms, and you’re probably aware that in Nicaragua, the Ortega Government ordered at least five television stations off the air for their coverage of massive protests. What is the U.S. Government prepared to do to stem this new wave of repression?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, Nicaragua is – and I think if you looked at the report – is going to wrong direction on many fronts and that is one of them, of media freedom. But also on all the basics, I mean, it’s a long litany of torture, extrajudicial killing, the elections were a sham. And so we’ve put more and more pressure on – I think you’ll see some of the sanctions programs will start to affect some people in that country. But it’s a tough one; the Ortega Government has basically shut down a lot of the opposition, a lot of the independent civil society organizations as well as the free media.

So I mean, in our policy everywhere, and certainly in Nicaragua, is to try to provide both moral – and to the extent we can support NGOs and so on that are working to keep – to help them keep working, help free media keep working, and bring about a change in that dimension. But it’s – it’s tough, but we can’t do it ourselves. We have to be in a position of supporting the people in those countries that are trying to bring about change, and we try to do that through a variety of means.

The Secretary – I’m not sure he met with any Nicaraguans – but at the Summit of the Americas had meetings with civil society activists from Cuba, Venezuela – same camp as Nicaragua – and it was in part just to give them that – show that we stand with them and that we’re trying to be supportive of what they’re trying to do to bring about change in their own country.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question about Gaza and --

MS NAUERT: Janne. Janne, go right – excuse me, Janne, go right ahead.

QUESTION: On North Korean human rights issues, as the North Korean nuclear issue is an important issue and the North Korean human rights is also serious issues, unless the regime of the North Korean Kim Jong-un changes, the North Korean human rights abuse against the North Korean people will continue. What is the U.S. solutions on this?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Okay. We have – I mean, we are concerned about the nuclear issue in North Korea, but we’re equally concerned about the human rights issues, and they both derive from the same problem. And I think you see in the report we’ve laid out pretty starkly the kinds of abuses, and over the last year or two, we’ve supported, like, a commission of inquiry on North Korea, we support NGOs that are working on North Korea and exposing the human rights abuses that occur in the camps there and so on. But some of the stories that are contained in the report are just overwhelming. There’s one about 11 people who were arrested for supposedly making a pornographic film and they were executed by shooting anti-artillery weapons at them, and then they brought out tanks and ran over the bodies, and this is supposed to be a civilized country.

So I don’t think you will see a diminishment in our concern about that issue even as we try to work the nuclear issue. It’s not a trade-off. I think the President’s laid out a vision there that North Korea can get on a much better path, but it needs to make progress across the board, not just on one issue.

QUESTION: Do you have any --

MS NAUERT: Michel.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. Sir, you – the report considers China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea forces of instability. What do you mean by that? And will there be any consequences?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, I don’t know that we’ve called them as forces of instability in the report. Perhaps --

QUESTION: Yeah, in the --

QUESTION: In the preface.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: In the preface. Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Well, I think that has to do with their international behavior as well as their internal behavior. I mean, sometimes, internal behavior – you can’t really separate them because when you start oppressing your own people, you generate refugee flows, you generate humanitarian crises like you’re seeing in Venezuela, for example. So – but there’s not – saying something is a force of instability is saying or characterizing a set of facts. It doesn’t necessarily have a prescribed policy flow. None of this does.

This report doesn’t say countries that reach a certain level we’re going to cut off aid or something like that. It’s the factual predicate for making those decisions, but those are policy decisions where the President and his advisors will have to weigh a whole number of factors.

MS NAUERT: And our final question --

QUESTION: Can I ask – can I ask a question on the Gaza and the West Bank.

MS NAUERT: -- Kylie from CBS News.

QUESTION: Because, I mean, he pointed to --

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the reproductive rights for a second? So you said there are no obstacles for women to get contraception in any country except for if there’s a remote issue, right?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: I said with some exceptions, and the exceptions were and still are – and we’ve really gotten at it by flipping back to the original U.S. statutory language. It’s in places like China, where in order to enforce their two – now two-child policy, that there are reports of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization. In North Korea, where the government also coerces or forces abortion – although sometimes that’s for political punishment rather than family planning. And we uncovered it – so as we were digging through trying to reduce the bulk of some of this report, I found in the old country I served in, in Belarus, that it turns out that the doctors in the state hospitals, and particularly in the institutions there, if they have a woman who is pregnant and who is a woman with disabilities, the doctors insist on an abortion. Or if they believe the fetus has a disability, they’ll insist on an abortion. So we’ve called that out too.

So it’s not – those were the cases, though, in the – under the previous formula where you would say there was a restriction on family planning, freedom of family planning. For most countries, it said, there isn’t any restriction except for the ones imposed by economics and rural-urban type thing. So --

QUESTION: So just to be clear just on that, so taking out the language about those cases therefore means that the U.S. doesn’t believe that the inability for women to get an abortion physically or by law is an abuse of human rights?

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: That – correct under the previous administration and this one and the one before that. We have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law. This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion, some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right. It’s an issue of great policy debate, you can have a good discussion, but there’s no internationally recognized standard as to what’s the right treatment.

But the other, yes. The – it is internationally recognized that somebody shouldn’t coerce you to have an abortion or force you to be sterilized, so that’s --

MS NAUERT: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question on the Palestinian --

MS NAUERT: We – the ambassador has to go. Thank you so much.

QUESTION: Yeah, one quick question on the Palestinian (inaudible).

MS NAUERT: We have to go. Sir, thank you. Thank you. We’ll get you another time.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Remarks on the Release of the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

ven, 04/20/2018 - 21:13
Remarks John J. Sullivan
   Acting Secretary of State Heather Nauert
   Department Spokesperson Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC
April 20, 2018

MS NAUERT: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for coming, especially on a Friday. Today the State Department released the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Promoting freedom – promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms are central to who we are as a country, and the United States will continue to support those around the world struggling for human dignity and liberty.

This is the 42nd annual Human Rights Report that the department has now released. We’re delighted to have our Acting Secretary of State, John Sullivan, with us here today to say a few words about this report. After Acting Secretary Sullivan’s remarks, we will invite Ambassador Michael Kozak to the podium to answer some of your questions. I will help facilitate, as we all know one another, and assist with that.

Ambassador Kozak is a senior bureau official with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and he’s looking forward to speaking with you shortly. He has served this department under Republican and Democrat administrations for 46 years, which is incredible. Sir, thank you for your service to the State Department.

And with that, I will hand over the podium to our Acting Secretary John Sullivan. Sir.

ACTING SECRETARY SULLIVAN: Thank you, Heather. Good afternoon, everyone. It’s an honor to be here to formally release the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Now in their 42nd year, these reports are a natural outgrowth of our values as Americans. The founding documents of our country speak to unalienable rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law – revolutionary concepts at the time of our founding that are now woven into the fabric of America and its interests both at home and abroad.

Promoting human rights and the idea that every person has inherent dignity is a core element of this administration’s foreign policy. It also strengthens U.S. national security by fostering greater peace, stability, and prosperity around the world. The Human Rights Reports are the most comprehensive and factual accounting of the global state of human rights. They help our government and others formulate policies and encourage both friends and foes to respect the dignity of all individuals without discrimination.

This year, we have sharpened the focus of the report to be more responsive to statutory reporting requirements and more focused on government action or inaction with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights. For example, each executive summary includes a paragraph to note the most egregious abuses that occurred in a particular country, including those against women, LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, and members of religious minorities.

Before I turn the podium over to Mike, I’d like to discuss a few countries in particular, including some with the most egregious human rights records.

The entire world is aware of the horrendous human rights abuses in Syria, including barrel bombing of civilians, attacks on hospitals, widespread reports of rape and abuse by Syrian Government personnel. A week ago, the President took action, together with our French and British allies, to deter the use of chemical weapons and protect the human rights of Syrian civilians.

We condemn the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Burma and the atrocities committed against them, and we are working with partners to address that crisis. More than 670,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in recent months. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been internally displaced. Those responsible for the violations, abuses, and attacks must be held accountable.

The DPRK is one of the most repressive and abusive regimes in the world. As the report makes clear, the Kim regime systematically neglects the well-being of its people to underwrite and fund its illicit weapons programs via forced labor, child labor, and the export of North Korean workers.

China continues to spread the worst features of its authoritarian system, including restrictions on activists, civil society, freedom of expression, and the use of arbitrary surveillance. The absence of an independent judiciary, the government’s crackdown in independent lawyers, and tight controls on information undermine the rule of law. We’re particularly concerned about the efforts of Chinese authorities to eliminate the religious, linguistic, and cultural identities of Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, as well as restrictions on the worship of Christians.

The Iranian people continue to suffer at the hands of their leaders. The right of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression are the legitimate expectation of all individuals worldwide. Unfortunately for the Iranian people, these human rights are under attack almost daily.

In Turkey, the detention of tens of thousands of individuals, including journalists and academics, under an ongoing state of emergency has undermined the rule of law there.

In Venezuela, the Maduro regime represses the human rights of its people and denies them the right to have a voice in their government. Thousands flee their homes daily in response to this growing humanitarian crisis. At the Summit of the Americas last week, Vice President Pence announced $16 million in humanitarian aid from the United States to help those who have fled Venezuela, are in – and are in desperate need of food, water, and medical help. We stand by the Venezuelan people even as their leaders refuse to allow aid into the country.

Finally, the Russian Government continues to quash dissent and civil society, even while it invades its neighbors and undermines the sovereignty of Western nations. We once again urge Russia to end its brutal occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, to halt the abuses perpetrated by Russian-led forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region, and to address impunity for the human rights violations and abuses in the Republic of Chechnya.

That’s a brief overview of the factual reports on countries of most concern. I know that Ambassador Kozak will be happy to answer any questions you may have, but before I turn the podium over to him, let me note at least a few bright spots.

Uzbekistan – although there’s still much progress to be made, the country has pursued a strategic reform agenda with positive effects on human rights, including the release of eight high-profile prisoners last year.

In Liberia, the recent presidential election represents a milestone marking the first peaceful transition from one democratically elected leader to another in more than 70 years.

And in Mexico, the general law on forced disappearances established criminal penalties for persons convicted of forced disappearance and a national framework to find victims.

These represent a few of the more positive examples noted in the reports which are released today. We hope to see many more positive accounts of countries taking serious action to improve the human rights record in the reports next year.

In conclusion, let me say America leads the way globally to promote human rights. We will also continue to impose consequences on those who abuse human rights. Over the past year, through the Russia Magnitsky and Global Magnitsky sanctions programs, we have undertaken some of our most aggressive measures yet. No human rights abuser, no matter where in the world, is out of our reach. The Human Rights Reports are a significant part of that overall effort. Creating them is an enormous undertaking and not for the fainthearted. I’m grateful to so many of my colleagues in the State Department, including those here in Washington and many others in embassies and consulates around the world, who’ve made these reports possible and contribute to America’s longstanding leadership in promoting human rights.

So with that, I’d like to turn the podium over to Acting Under Secretary Nauert and to my friend and colleague, Ambassador Mike Kozak. Thank you.


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Press Releases: Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., Highlights Centennial Celebration of U.S.-Czech Relations

ven, 04/20/2018 - 20:31
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 20, 2018

American Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., will be traveling to the Czech Republic from April 21-25 as a State Department Sports Envoy, part of the Department’s effort to strengthen people-to-people ties as part of U.S. Embassy Prague’s year-long Centennial Celebration of U.S.-Czech relations.

In partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Czech Baseball Association, Ripken will travel to the cities of Prague, Pilsen, and Brno to conduct clinics for kids, meet with coaches and local officials, and hold public discussions on the game of baseball.

During the visit, Ripken will introduce the sport of baseball and donate baseball equipment to Roma communities in Prague. He will also meet with the Czech Olympic Committee and open a baseball exhibit at the famous Pilsen Brewery.

“This is an exciting trip and I’m honored to have the opportunity to teach the game I love, while embracing the culture of the Czech Republic. I look forward to meeting everyone and learning more about how we can help grow the game of baseball internationally,” said Ripken.

In addition to his role as Major League Baseball’s special adviser to the commissioner on youth programs and outreach, Ripken was also named an “American Public Diplomacy Envoy” by the State Department in 2007. In this capacity he has previously engaged with youth, public audiences and government leaders in the countries of China, Japan, and Nicaragua.

For press inquiries in the United States, contact ECA-Press@state.gov. You can follow Cal Ripken’s visit to the Czech Republic on Twitter (@USEmbassyPrague) and Facebook (U.S. Embassy Prague). To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy, follow the program on Twitter @SportsDiplomacy.


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Press Releases: U.S. - Poland Science and Technology Agreement Signing Ceremony at Department of State

ven, 04/20/2018 - 16:13
Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 20, 2018

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. will welcome Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin to the U.S. Department of State on Monday, April 23 at 3:30 p.m. for the signing of the U.S.-Poland Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

The signing ceremony underscores our mutual commitment to advancing scientific research for the benefit of the American and Polish people, strengthening our official science and technology relationship that spans the last 45 years. This agreement facilitates joint research, programs, scientific workshops, conferences, and exchanges of scientific and technical data in the areas of basic research, applied research and development, and innovation activities.

The ceremony will take place in the Treaty Room and is open to the press for photographs and to cover the remarks.

Pre-set time for cameras: 2:45 p.m. from the 23rd Street entrance.

Final access time for writers and still photographers: 3:15 p.m. from the 23rd Street entrance

Media representatives may attend this briefing upon presentation of an official photo identification (driver’s license or passport) AND one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense, or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist.

For further information about access to the event, please contact the Department of State Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492 or PAPressDuty@state.gov. Media with further questions about the signing ceremony may contact OES-PA-DG@state.gov.


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Press Releases: Acting Secretary Sullivan To Release the 2017 Human Rights Reports

ven, 04/20/2018 - 01:28
Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan will deliver on-camera remarks on the release of the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018, in the Press Briefing Room at the U.S. Department of State.

Ambassador Michael Kozak from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will take questions in the Briefing Room immediately following Acting Secretary Sullivan’s remarks.

Promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms are central to who we are as a country, and the United States will continue to support those around the world struggling for human dignity and liberty. The 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are required by U.S. law and document the status of human rights and worker rights in nearly 200 countries and territories.

Remarks will be open to the press and streamed live on www.state.gov.

Journalists should be seated in the State Department’s Press Briefing Room (room 2209) no later than 12:45 p.m. It is accessible from the 23rd Street Entrance of the Department.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued photo media credential (e.g., Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), or (2) an official photo identification card issued by their news organization, or (3) a letter from their employer on official letterhead verifying their current employment as a journalist. Additionally, they must present an official government photo identification card (i.e., U.S. driver's license or passport).

Instructions for embargoed access to the reports will be sent to members of the press only, on Friday, April 20, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. The entire report is EMBARGOED until the end of the press briefing, approximately 2:00 p.m. After the briefing, the reports will be available to the public on www.state.gov.

For further information, please contact the Office of Press Relations on 202-647-2492 or PAPressDuty@state.gov.


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Press Releases: U.S. Department of State and the Business Council for International Understanding to Co-host the U.S.-Japan Business Roundtable on Infrastructure Cooperation in Third Countries

ven, 04/20/2018 - 00:49
Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

On Monday, April 23, 2018 the U.S. Department of State and the Business Council for International Understanding will co-host a business roundtable, in cooperation with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss opportunities for U.S.-Japan collaboration on infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region. The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. in the George C. Marshall Conference Center, at the Department of State.

Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh will lead the event that will include approximately 100 U.S. and Japanese private sector representatives. The aim is to advance common interests raised during the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue, and public-private partnerships that to support best-value solutions to most effectively meet third-country economic and social sustainability goals.

There will be a camera spray preceding the Roundtable that is open to the press.

Pre-set time for cameras is 7:30 a.m. from the 21st Street entrance. Final access time for writers and stills is 8:00 a.m. from the 21st Street entrance.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued photo media credential (e.g., Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), or (2) an official photo identification card issued by their news organization, or (3) a letter from their employer on official letterhead verifying their current employment as a journalist. Additionally, they must present an official government photo identification card (i.e., U.S. driver's license or passport).

For further information, please contact Katina Adams at EAP-Press@state.gov or 202-647-2538, or visit @USAsiaPacific on Twitter.


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Press Releases: U.S.-Morocco Strategic Energy Working Group on Energy Cooperation

ven, 04/20/2018 - 00:14
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

The U.S. Department of State hosted the second U.S.-Morocco Strategic Energy Working Group meeting in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 2018. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk and Director General Amina Benkhadra, National Bureau of Petroleum and Mines for Morocco, led the discussions.

Officials from the Department of Commerce also participated along with Moroccan delegation members from the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency, the Research Institute for Renewable Energy and New Energies, and the Embassy of Morocco in Washington D.C.

Discussions focused on recent developments in the Moroccan energy sector, including hydrocarbons exploration, renewables deployment, and energy efficiency; on-going Department of State and Commerce initiatives in Morocco; areas for collaboration including natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewables; and private sector investment opportunities in the energy field.

As its demand for energy rises, Morocco is working to attract U.S. investment to help meet the needs of its growing economy. The United States is an ideal partner for advancing Morocco’s energy security goals.

This event exemplifies the strong U.S.-Morocco bilateral relationship and the significant strides we have made in energy sector collaboration over the last few years.

For further information, contact Vincent Campos, Spokesperson for the Bureau of Energy Resources, at CamposVM@state.gov or visit www.state.gov/e/enr. You can also find information on Twitter at @EnergyAtState.


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Press Releases: Fifteenth Session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission Under the New START Treaty

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 22:25
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

The fifteenth session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission under the U.S.-Russia New START Treaty was held in Geneva on April 10-20.

The U.S. and Russian delegations continued the discussion of practical issues related to the implementation of the Treaty.


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Press Releases: Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Christopher A. Ford To Head U.S. Delegation of the NPT Preparatory Committee 2018 in Geneva

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 22:18
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Dr. Christopher A. Ford will head the U.S. delegation for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from April 23-May 4, 2018.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Anita Friedt and U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament Ambassador Robert A. Wood will join Assistant Secretary Ford.

At this year’s meeting, the United States will continue to emphasize the common interests NPT States Parties share in the success of the Treaty and the central role of nonproliferation in achieving the full benefits of the Treaty. Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a direct and fundamental benefit of the NPT to all its Parties. An effective nonproliferation regime is a key element in building security conditions conducive to progress on nuclear disarmament. It also facilitates cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy by building confidence that peaceful nuclear programs will not be misused or diverted to weapons.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the NPT, the Preparatory Committee meeting is an opportunity for all NPT Parties to recommit themselves to preserving and expanding those benefits.


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Press Releases: Acting Secretary Sullivan's Meeting With UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 22:08
Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:‎

Acting Secretary John J. Sullivan met with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, Acting Secretary Sullivan thanked Special Envoy Griffiths for his work on the challenging conflict in Yemen and underscored U.S. support for efforts to restart talks among parties, including the framework for negotiations currently being developed.

The Acting Secretary and the Special Envoy discussed the dire humanitarian situation and delivery of aid to millions of civilians and refugees living in Yemen. The two agreed that the way forward to achieve peace, prosperity, and security in Yemen is through a comprehensive political agreement that will require compromise from all sides.


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Press Releases: Acting Secretary of State Sullivan to Travel to Toronto

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 21:20
Press Statement Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will travel to Toronto, Canada from April 21-23 to lead the U.S. delegation to the G-7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

The G-7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting offers an opportunity for foreign ministers to exchange views and collaborate on global political and security issues of mutual concern, including counterterrorism, non-proliferation, North Korea, and Syria. These conversations will set the stage for the G-7 Leaders’ Summit in Charlevoix, Canada, in June.

On the margins of the G-7 ministerial, Acting Secretary Sullivan will meet with a number of his counterparts for bilateral discussions. The Acting Secretary will also engage with staff at Consulate General Toronto.


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Press Releases: Briefing on Updated Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Export Policy

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 18:39
Special Briefing Tina S. Kaidanow
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Dr. Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President for Trade And Manufacturing Policy
Via Teleconference
April 19, 2018

MR GREENAN: Thank you, Shaun. And thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning for this on-the-record conference call. We have with us Dr. Peter Navarro, who’s the assistant to the President for trade and manufacturing policy and director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. He is joined by Ambassador Tina Kaidanow. She is the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs here at the Department of State.

The call today will be on the updated Conventional Arms Transfer policy and Unmanned Aerial Systems export policy. This call is on the record, but I’d note that the contents of the call will be embargoed until the Conventional Arms Transfer policy is posted on the White House website at approximately 12:00 p.m. today, Thursday, April 19.

I’d also like to note that we have with us on the phone Mr. Gregory Kausner. He’s the deputy director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. He’s able to participate with us today. He will be happy to field any questions that are addressed to the DSCA.

So with that, I’ll turn it over to Dr. Navarro. Thank you.

MR NAVARRO: Thank you. I want to start by thanking the Department of State and the National Security Council for all their tremendous work leading this process over the past year, along with all our interagency partners. This collaboration underscores the President’s vision that economic security is national security. The fact is our allies and partners want to buy American. They know American industries produce the most technologically sophisticated, accurate, and effective defense systems in the world. When we enable our allies and partners to more easily obtain appropriate American defense articles and services, we improve our national security. Partners who procure American weaponry are more capable of fighting alongside us and ultimately more capable of protecting themselves with fewer American boots on the ground.

Providing our allies and partners with greater access to American arms will also reduce their reliance not just on Chinese knockoffs, but also on Russian systems, consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. For too long we have hamstrung ourselves and limited our ability to provide our allies and partners with the defensive capabilities they require, even when in the U.S. interest. President Trump’s new CAT policy, which reforms the myopic 2014 policy of his predecessor, will ensure that American interests are put first in our own decision making.

The administration’s UAS export policy will level the playing field by enabling U.S. firms to increase their direct sales to authorized allies and partners. By expanding international sales opportunities, U.S. industry will be further incentivized to do what they do best: invest and innovate. This will keep our defense industrial base in the vanguard of emerging defense technologies while creating thousands of additional jobs with good wages and generating substantial export revenues.

The U.S. aerospace and defense industries contribute almost a trillion dollars annually to our economy and support about 2.5 million jobs while maintaining a significant global trade surplus. As President Trump works to balance our trade with the rest of the world, further strengthening a critical part of our export economy and defense industrial base is a logical and critical step.

I’ll now turn it over to Ambassador Kaidanow.

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Thanks very much. Actually, I’m going to leave that statement because I think it speaks volumes, and maybe just open it up for any further questions. We’re very, very pleased that we now have the opportunity to engage in this conversation. As Dr. Navarro said, it’s been a process that’s taken some time to put together thoughtfully, and we want to be able to talk about it with all of you. So thank you very much.

MR GREENAN: All right, thank you. With that, we’ll turn to our questions.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to ask a question, please press *1. Our first question is going to come from the line of Matthew Lee from the Associated Press. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi there. Good morning. I just – I have two brief ones. Number one: What exactly is changing about – how is it now or going to be easier for allies and partners to buy these drone systems and the other things?

And secondly: Didn’t – you refer, Dr. Navarro, to the myopic policy of the previous administration. Didn’t this begin, this review with an eye toward easing these restrictions, begin during the previous administration? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Okay, well, I’ll start, and then if Dr. Navarro wants to chime in, he’s welcome to. What I would say is as follows: Let’s remember, again, first of all, there’s the discussion of sort of the wider array of things that fall under the conventional arms treaty – Conventional Arms Transfer initiative. That is a wider set of things than simply just the UAS policy; we should bear that in mind. And in that instance, or with that regard, what we are explicitly doing there is inserting a definition of economic security, right – consideration, I should say, of economic security into our broader national security considerations.

So in other words, it’s not that we are necessarily doing one thing. You’re doing a number of things, and I hope that we will be able to talk interactively with industry associations – that’s part of this effort – to hear what they have to say about how we can more strategically address some of their concerns and enable them to make sales overseas. That will be done within the very near future. In fact, we’re – as part of the explicit element here, you’ll see some of this when it comes out in the new NSPM so-called. But at any rate, we will be talking to them within the next 60 days so we can put together a specific work plan to actually implement all of this.

But – so in other words, it is efforts to do things a little more strategically. We need to do, as the U.S. Government, a better job of strategic advocacy for some of our companies. We need to think about those areas where we can really enable sales overseas. We need to think about how might they sell things that are a little bit harder to sell. We recognize that because the quality of our product is so high, sometimes, for example, it’s more expensive than others. Well, just because of that, we don’t want to disadvantage them. We’d like to find ways to help enable countries to buy our product even when it may be slightly more expensive and so forth.

So we need to be working with our companies to find the ways for strategic advocacy to do all of these things that will enable them, and we are specifically looking, again, as Dr. Navarro said, at the question of how do we enable these companies, how do we provide economic security for the United States, how do we make sure we’re creating American jobs and American prosperity as part of the larger picture, the balance and responsible policy that we have with regard to all the things we consider when we look at any particular arms sale.

So I’m going to leave it there and then Dr. Navarro, if you want to chime in.

MR NAVARRO: Again, the fact of the matter here is, although the U.S. leads the way in UAS technology, overly restrictive policies enacted by the previous administration have accelerated an undesirable outcome. Strategic competitors like China are aggressively marketing to and making sales in international markets that are forecast to be worth more than $50 billion a year within the next decade. Already, we are seeing Chinese replicas of American UAS technology deployed on the runways in the Middle East. In June, at the Paris Air Show, China’s Chengdu Aircraft Group featured its Wing Loong II medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS, a clear knockoff of General Atomics Reaper.

Bottom line, the policies of the previous administration enabled that, and this administration, consistent with its national security strategy and national defense strategy, is changing that policy.

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Let me – sorry, just let me add one more thing specific to the UAS policy itself because I mentioned that’s it’s a part of, but it’s an important part of the overall changes under the new CAT policy. We are enabling not just some additional sales of MTCR Category 1; we are actually looking at allowing these companies – Dr. Navarro mentioned we’re allowing them to go forward and make a function of what we call direct commercial sales – in other words, to directly make sales to the countries rather than via the U.S. Government. That’s a major change. And we will give them additional space for marketing of these systems and for the eventual sale, assuming that they meet all the other criteria, the sale meets all the other criteria that we would normally consider.

There are other things the new policy will do. It’ll eliminate the special scrutiny of laser designators on UAS. That’s one of the things that has hampered the sale of these particular systems. So there’s a number of things within the policy itself that will help enable and widen the space, if you want to call it that, for the sales.

MR GREENAN: Thank you very much. We’ll go to the next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question, then, comes from the line of Aaron Mehta from Defense News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this, guys. A couple of things just to make it clear: So is there any change in the presumption of denial and – with the unmanned systems? And if so, how is it actually – if there’s no change, how is it actually different from what the Obama administration set up in 2015 with that standard? And then can you just go into why the laser designator decision was made and what that actually means in terms of being able to sell these things to different countries?

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Let me be clear, first of all, that the presumption of denial is not a feature of a particular administration. The presumption of denial comes as a feature of the MTCR regime itself. And the rationale behind it is one that I think is understandable and it still pertains, and that is it is supposed to prevent the proliferation of systems that may indeed cause – of weapons of mass destruction, in essence, and those systems in particular that might, for example, endanger U.S. troops.

So we have to have those considerations in mind and that’s why I say this is a balance policy. It does not change the presumption of denial under the MTCR, okay? It’s – again, this is a regime that is a multilateral regime and it’s existed for some time. The point is that what we are looking to do is take that presumption of denial, assess it against other factors – and these are important factors, the ones that I mentioned before, and there will be others – but the point is that we will work to update the MCTR. That’s another issue. We are looking to ensure that the MTCR keeps pace with the dynamic quality of all of this.

Let’s remember that the things that, for example, two or three years ago may have been, again, endangering our troops may have been of concern to us with regard to the spread of weapons of mass destruction, now may have commercial applications. There may be things that, again, over time, do not concern us in quite the same way. So we are looking together with our partners to update the MTCR. That’s an ongoing process. But the existing presumption of denial – that doesn’t change. What we are doing is – again, we are widening the space for the companies to do their sales and marketing via direct commercial sales. We’re eliminating some of the specific factors that in the past we looked at when we approved these sales or we didn’t. And what we are doing is ensuring that, again, that the MTCR itself keeps pace with the changes over time that we think are salient and need to be considered.

MR GREENAN: Thank you. We’ll go to the next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Roxana Tiron from Bloomberg. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. Hi. Thank you for doing this. Two questions, actually: Is there – are there any considerations given to make sure that some of these arm sales don’t end up to countries that violate human rights? And also, President Trump yesterday said that this could allow sales of weapons to go through in just days, but Congress still has about 30 days to block a proposed sale. Does that change? Is there any change in that as well?

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Okay. So let me be very clear. Nothing in the – this new NSPM that will be issued changes either the existing legal or the regulatory requirements. And we are very respectful of Congress’s role in all of this. Again, we consider them to be our partners and they are the ones that ultimately will authorize a number of these sales, in so far as – again, we have good consultation with them. There is a process by which all this flows. I won’t get into all the mechanics of that here. I’m happy offline to talk about it, or we can give you a lot more detail on how that all works. But the point is Congress retains its role. Again, no change to the legal or regulatory framework.

And the important thing again here to remember – you asked about human rights. The real question for us – again, this is a balanced policy. We absolutely look at human rights as one of a set of considerations that we look at. It’s all done – every sale we do is done on a case-by-case basis. In other words, we look at a whole range of U.S. national security objectives. Dr. Navarro talked about some of them. We are looking, again, at the – we are looking at the – again, the entire range. And let’s remember, U.S. national security make – is comprised – may be comprised of a whole set of things. We look at democracy, at governance, at human rights, at economic development, at security, at the creation of U.S. national – or U.S. jobs and American prosperity. We look at all those things, with an emphasis on making sure that, again, companies can operate in that space, that they have every opportunity to do their business within that set of considerations.

On human rights specifically, let me just mention we have been very, very focused, especially in this administration and in tandem with Congress, on trying to give our partners, our strategic partners overseas, the ability to avoid civilian causalities especially where we can. I know that’s the focus of – in Congress and the wider array of public opinion. This is really important. We need to give them an understanding – using some of our experience, give them an understanding of how to minimize civilian causalities to the extent possible when they are doing their operations overseas. That’s critically important to us. I really want to emphasize that, because, again, we have focused on it so very hard over the last little while, especially with Congress.

MR NAVARRO: Yeah. Let me echo what Ambassador Kaidanow said, because it’s so important. The new policy clearly and strongly recognizes the need for responsible balance. And just some of the key issues include human rights, nonproliferation, as well as safeguards against the transfer of our technology, the theft of that, to bad actors. And the safeguards that are put in place include things like prescreening, principles of proper use, training and support, and a continuation of stringent end-use monitoring. So this is a key part of President Trump’s new policies. And again, as Ambassador Kaidanow said, they require enhanced end-use monitoring, directing the federal government to work with partners in reducing civilian causalities in conflict, and championing principles of human rights and international law, including the law of armed conflict. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Let me – sorry, just to add one thing, and again, to emphasize – this is so salient and Dr. Navarro just mentioned it again, but this is the first time that minimizing civilian casualties indeed will be an affirmative part of our conventional arms policy. So that really is a change, and it’s an important change, and is one that I think we’re incredibly focused on as we do our work.

MR GREENAN: Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will come from the line of Mike Stone from Reuters. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. What is the number of jobs that will be created by this? And what is the estimated dollar amount that defense exports will go up, making them go from X to Y?

MR GREENAN: Dr. Navarro?

MR NAVARRO: So we’re going to say at the general 30,000-foot level. This will all be a function of how the sales go forward and through the review process. So that would merely be speculation at this point. What we do know is that this will provide the American industry with expanded opportunities, and that’s the signature of President Trump’s administration.

MR GREENAN: Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Your next question’s coming from the line of Charles Forrester from Jane’s. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, or morning rather. Thank you very much for doing this. Question for you is regarding offset technology transfer. Now some of the markets that you’ve mentioned here, in the Middle East and India for example, very strong on technology transfer and getting some of that work done out there as part of a package deal. How do you see that reconciling with the new policy?

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: Well, what I would say is with regard to – first of all, I think you know that in certain particular instances, we are – we allow the companies to do the actual negotiations with regard to offsets and other requirements and so forth. The U.S. Government itself doesn’t get in the middle of that set of negotiations.

But again, let’s remember that what the NSPM will call for is within 60 days we are apt to produce a work plan. And that work plan, again, will be done and created in conjunction with a number of these companies and with some of the industry associations. In putting it together, we will be looking at a whole array of things, not just coproduction but, again, things that will enable sales overseas: strategic efforts to create an environment in which our companies can push back against foreign competitors, make our products as competitive as possible, advance sales, all those things that we want to be doing. Financing advocacy – in other words, looking at ways that we might, again, if our product ends up being slightly more expensive because it is better, then how do we enable countries to really do that so that they can purchase those systems. So there’s a whole array of things that may come. We’re going to have that conversation with companies, but it’s important that we look at that whole array of things in order to give us a better understanding of where we can be most effective.

MR GREENAN: Thank you. And we’ll take our last --

MR NAVARRO: I would just add to that the organizational culture of the Trump administration is: buy American, hire American. These are the two simple rules that President Trump has repeatedly stressed, and be assured that this administration will be encouraging private defense industry to embrace those principles as it goes forward with its expanded opportunities.

MR GREENAN: Okay. We’ll take our last question now, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Then our final question will come from Aaron Mehta from Defense News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, you guys. Sorry. I just wanted to follow up on the laser designation question from earlier. What is actually being changed about that? Why does that change matter? Thanks.

AMBASSADOR KAIDANOW: So basically what it means is that we’ll be reducing the complications to how we classify UAS. Because under the previous policy, UAS equipped with so-called strike-enabling technology, like laser target designators, were classified under a specific, discrete category. And the criteria for transferring that category of UAS was equivalent to the criteria for transferring an armed UAS. So we placed the proposed transfer of UASs equipped with strike-enabling technologies under significant scrutiny in the past, and we limited their transfer to occur only through the Foreign Military Sale system.

That approach caused a lot of confusion within industry and our partners, so the new policy does away with this category of quote-un-quote striking-enabling, and those technologies that were previously classified as such are now treated as unarmed, essentially. So eliminating that kind of distinction makes it easier, or makes it so that U.S. industry faces fewer barriers and less confusion when they’re attempting to compete against other countries in marketing and selling those similar systems to our partners. So what it does is it allows them effectively to sell you UAS with laser target designators via direct commercial sale, which, as I mentioned previously, can potentially allow for faster procurement by those countries.

MR GREENAN: And before we close, I just want to offer Mr. Kausner from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency an opportunity to comment on any of the topics raised, if he has any comments.

MR KAUSNER: Nothing to add. Thank you.

MR GREENAN: All right. Terrific. Well with that then, we’ll conclude the call. I remind everyone that the contents of the call is on the record, but embargoed until the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy is posted on the White House website. That link was provided in the advisory sent out for this call, and we expect that will be around 12:00 p.m. noon today, Thursday April 19th. Thank you everyone, and have an enjoyable day.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: On the Occasion of Israel's National Day

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 14:10
Press Statement John J. Sullivan
Acting Secretary of State Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

On behalf of President Trump and the American people, I offer best wishes and congratulations to all Israelis as you mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence on April 19.

The State of Israel has prevailed over every challenge it has faced over the past 70 years. In just a short time, the people of Israel have created a successful nation that has flourished and continues to thrive. The United States established our diplomatic presence in Jerusalem well before the State of Israel was born, over 170 years ago. This year, we look forward to opening the new Embassy of the United States in Jerusalem on May 14 which coincides with the 70th anniversary of President Truman recognizing the nascent State of Israel.

Israel and the United States have an unshakeable bond that has endured and grown even stronger over the past seven decades. As President Trump said in Jerusalem last May, “…let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people – and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for all.” The United States will continue to be a steadfast ally of Israel and will stand together with you today, and always.

Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Shooting of Five Civilian Employees of Donetsk Filtration Station

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 01:13
Press Statement Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 18, 2018

The United States condemns yesterday’s shooting of civilian employees of the Donetsk Filtration Station in Ukraine, which left five individuals wounded. The filtration station has temporarily shut down following the incident. In addition to endangering the lives of innocent civilians, this attack threatened water supplies for almost 350,000 Ukrainians living on both sides of the line of contact.

Yesterday’s incident follows closely shelling that severely damaged power lines near water pumping stations in the Donetsk region, which has endangered water supplies to over three million people. We urge Russia-led forces and Ukrainian Armed Forces to allow for maintenance workers to conduct repairs and prevent a new humanitarian crisis. We further call on all forces to withdraw from positions around the Donetsk Filtration Station and other critical civilian infrastructure.

The Department takes this opportunity to repeat its call on Russia to withdraw its forces from eastern Ukraine and fully implement its commitments under the Minsk agreements. As Russia instigated this conflict and continues to arm, train, lead, and fight alongside its proxy forces in the Donbas, Russia bears the responsibility for the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Holding Russia Accountable for Chemical Weapons Use in Salisbury, UK

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 01:07
Press Statement Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 18, 2018

Today, the UN Security Council and the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) met to discuss the OPCW’s recent findings related to the March 4 use of a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, UK.

The OPCW’s independent report, released last week, confirms the UK lab analysis regarding the identity of the chemical used in Salisbury. We applaud the OPCW’s expeditious support and technical efforts to uncover the facts.

We fully support the UK and the need for today’s special meetings of the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council to discuss the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury and the OPCW’s detailed independent analysis.

As we have made clear, the United States agrees with the UK’s assessment that Russia is responsible for this use of chemical weapons on UK soil– either through deliberate use or through its failure to declare and secure its stocks of this nerve agent.

Only the Government of Russia has the motive, means, and record to conduct such an attack. Russia developed the type of military-grade nerve agent used in Salisbury and has a record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations.

Rather than changing its harmful and destructive behavior, the Russian government offers only denials and counteraccusations to deflect attention from its culpability.

The United States condemns the use of chemical weapons anywhere, anytime, by anyone, under any circumstances. We urge our colleagues on the UN Security Council and the OPCW Executive Council to join us, as they have before, to create a unified front against the use of chemical weapons. We cannot allow the normalization of chemical weapons use.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Progress toward Strengthening and Expanding Central America's Regional Electricity Market

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 00:51
Press Statement Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 18, 2018

The State Department applauds the regional institutions that govern Central America’s regional electricity market (the Mercado Electrico Regional, or MER) for their accomplishments and new commitments to further develop the MER and expand the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) announced at the High-Level Meeting at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, D.C. on April 17. The Department of State was represented by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk and Deputy Assistant Secretary John Creamer of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the meeting, which was a commitment from the June 2017 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.

Progress highlighted at the IDB meeting included plans to complete national transmission investments to upgrade regional electricity transmission capacity, finalize negotiations on amending the SIEPAC treaty, foster dialogue with private sector energy companies, and continue working with the Mexican government on a framework to enable power trade between Central America and Mexico.

Strengthening and expanding Central America’s regional electricity market is a key part of the U.S. Strategy for Central America to help the region have secure, reliable, and affordable energy that enhances regional prosperity and competitiveness. The U.S. government is committed to helping Central America achieve its energy goals to promote a strong and prosperous Central America that also strengthens U.S. national security.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton Travels to Seoul and Tokyo

mer, 04/18/2018 - 23:07
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
April 18, 2018

Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton will travel to Seoul, Republic of Korea, April 22-24, followed by Tokyo, Japan, April 24-27. During her visits to our treaty allies in Northeast Asia she will reaffirm U.S. alliance commitments and coordinate on issues of importance for the maintenance of security and prosperity in the region. She will also discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and the continued close coordination on the DPRK.

Follow the Acting Assistant Secretary’s travel via @USAsiaPacific on Twitter.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

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