Release of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

3 Dec

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

President Biden today signed the updated National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.  The National Action Plan outlines a three-year comprehensive approach to combat human trafficking, including actions to strengthen prosecution of traffickers, enhance victim protections, and prevent the crime from occurring within our borders and abroad.

The updated National Action Plan integrates the Administration’s core commitments to addressing the needs of underserved individuals, families, and communities – including by advancing racial and gender equity; furthering workers’ rights; preventing forced labor in global supply chains; and ensuring safe, orderly, and humane migration.  First launched in 2020, the National Action Plan’s updates build on the foundational pillars of U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts – prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.

Secretary Blinken chairs the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), a cabinet-level entity created by statute in 2000 to coordinate U.S. government-wide efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The PITF, which consists of 20 federal agencies, serves as a forum for collaborating on implementation of the National Action Plan’s priority actions.  PITF agencies are already taking concrete steps to implement key aspects of the updated National Action Plan, including by forming two working groups — one to develop best practices in implementing screening forms and protocols and the second to analyze rights and protections granted to certain temporary visa holders.

The National Action Plan highlights several critical ways the Department of State combats human trafficking.  It calls for collaboration between the Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and other federal and local law enforcement agencies to continue building our collective capacity to pursue human trafficking cases and promptly connect victims to services.  It also reinforces the urgency of the Department’s ongoing work to engage governments, including across our own interagency, and with the private sector to prevent and address forced labor in global supply chains and public procurement.  Most importantly, the National Action Plan underscores the need to further enhance our ability to ensure our anti-trafficking work is trauma- and survivor-informed, which the Department is committed to doing through its engagement with the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and support of the Human Trafficking Expert Consultant Network.

The full text of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking can be found here. 

Thailand National Day

3 Dec

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On behalf of the United States of America, I extend my best wishes to the people of Thailand as you celebrate your National Day.

In more than two centuries of friendship, the United States and Thailand have strengthened cooperation in all sectors, from bilateral trade to international law enforcement to public health. We are committed to elevating the economic, security, health, and people-to-people ties that exist between our two countries, further strengthening our alliance and partnership.  In the coming year, as we work together to build back better and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome Thailand’s leadership in the region and beyond.

Congratulations to all the people of Thailand on this important day, and I wish you a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.

United States and Kenya Hold Dialogue on Cyber Issues

3 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The United States and Kenya held the first U.S.-Kenya Cyber Dialogue convened under the U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue on December 1.  The Department of State’s Acting Coordinator for Cyber Issues Michele Markoff led the U.S. delegation, which also included participants from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other agencies.  The Kenyan delegation was led by Dennis N. Mutiso, Chairman of the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee (NC4), and included participation from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of ICT, ICT Authority, Communications Authority, and the Central Bank of Kenya, among others.

The virtual dialogue covered issues of mutual concern such as addressing cybercrime, enhancing cybersecurity and resilience, supporting a stable cyberspace, and increasing cooperation on cybersecurity incident handling. The United States appreciates its strong strategic partnership with Kenya, dedicated to advancing peace and prosperity in Africa and the western Indian Ocean region.

 On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 Dec

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On December 3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment and resolve to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities at home and around the world.  We urge foreign governments to engage persons with disabilities in the democratic process, to combat discrimination and abuse, counter prejudice, and to protect their rights and ensure their inclusion in all facets of life on an equal basis with other people.

Around the world, policies related to elections and civic engagement are not fully inclusive for persons with disabilities.  Given the more than one billion persons living with disabilities globally, this widespread inaccessibility is an enormous and untenable disenfranchisement.  This Administration recognizes the values, talents, and contributions that persons with disabilities bring to the global community.  That is why President Biden appointed Sara Minkara to serve as U.S. Special Advisor on International Disability Rights – a role critical to ensuring disability-inclusive U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance.  Our colleagues around the world with disabilities – Civil and Foreign Service, contractors, eligible family members, and locally employed staff – make us stronger.  They bring creativity to our efforts to resolve entrenched problems and draw on their lived experiences to inform and strengthen our policies to promote accessibility and inclusion.

The United States strives to be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, to reflect one of our most fundamental values as a nation:  That everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  At the State Department, we endeavor to uphold these values every day, ensuring that our colleagues with disabilities thrive in the workplace.  As part of the Summit for Democracy and in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we demonstrate this approach by convening leaders from all sectors of society and representing democracies around the world to identify innovative approaches and actions that promote disability-inclusive democracy.  We know the best, most durable, and lasting solutions arise when governments embrace, respect, and integrate diverse perspectives from all communities, including persons with disabilities.

On the Australian Sanctions Regime

3 Dec

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States commends Australia on passing legislation that strengthens its sanctions regime to address more comprehensively human rights abuses, corruption, malicious cyber activity, violations of international humanitarian law, and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferation globally — all of which threaten international peace and security. The new legislation will enhance U.S.-Australia cooperation on defending human rights and combatting corruption.

Together with other allies and partners, the United States and Australia will seek to promote our shared democratic values with similar tools and continue to call on international partners to adopt sanctions structures that can address these challenges to democratic ideals.  Human rights abusers, corrupt and malign actors, transnational criminals, and those who seek to proliferate WMD, no matter where they are located, will not have access to our financial systems.  The United States looks forward to continuing our partnership with Australia, other like-minded governments, and civil society alike to defend human rights, combat corruption, promote responsible behavior in cyberspace, and promote accountability and good governance.

Joint Statement on the Syria Special Envoy Meeting

3 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is the Joint Statement on the Syria Special Envoy Meeting.

Begin Text.

Representatives of the Arab League, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States met December 2 at the envoys-level in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Syria.

We reaffirmed our support for the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and to the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as for the implementation of all aspects of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, including an immediate nationwide ceasefire, the release of the arbitrarily detained, and the unimpeded and safe delivery of aid.

We welcomed UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen’s briefing and pledged to redouble our support to his continued efforts, including in the Constitutional Committee, to engage all parties and advance progress towards a political resolution to the crisis in accordance with UNSCR 2254.  We will also firmly press for accountability for the most serious crimes.

We expressed deep concern regarding the continued suffering of the Syrian people as a result of over 10 years of violence and the dire humanitarian situation on the ground.  We emphasized that access to life-saving humanitarian assistance must be provided through all modalities including cross-border and cross-line as well as early recovery projects consistent with UNSCR 2585, across the whole of Syria.  We stressed the importance of continuing the UN cross-border mechanism that reaches over three million Syrians each month and to which there is no alternative, as well as the need to maintain support to Syrian refugees and to the generous host countries, until Syrians can voluntarily return home with safety and dignity in line with UNHCR standards.

End Text.

U.S.-EU: Joint Press Release by the EEAS and Department of State on the Second High-Level Meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China

2 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is the text of a joint press release by the U.S. Department of State and the European External Action Service.

Begin text:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino held the second high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China on December 2 in Washington. They reviewed the work of the six working groups that were launched since the first high-level meeting in May. They reiterated that the United States’ and EU’s respective relations with China are multifaceted and emphasized the importance of the United States and EU maintaining continuous and close contacts on our respective approaches as we invest and grow our economies, cooperate with China where possible, and manage our competition and systemic rivalry with China responsibly.

Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino also discussed the growing list of China’s actions that are of concern, including those that breach international law and run counter to the shared values and interests of the United States and the EU. They discussed ongoing human rights abuses and violations in China, including the systemic repression of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and in Tibet, and the erosion of autonomy and democracy in Hong Kong. They expressed a shared interest in continued exchanges and cooperation, including in multilateral fora, on human rights issues in China. They also reaffirmed the importance of upholding international law and principles, and strengthening the effectiveness of multilateral institutions by coordinating to advance shared priorities related to human rights, global standards, clear institutional procedures, and wherever possible on elections in international organizations. Noting the harmful effects of disinformation on democratic societies, they expressed their readiness to deepen U.S.-EU information sharing on disinformation sponsored or supported by China.

Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino reaffirmed the importance of protecting and building economic and technological resilience, diversifying and strengthening supply chains, and addressing economic coercion. They reiterated the importance of close U.S.-EU cooperation to uphold the rules-based international order, including securing a level playing field for all countries. They also emphasized the importance of protecting intellectual property rights, critical infrastructure, and sensitive technologies, as well as information-sharing on tools to strengthen economic resilience, reduce loopholes and vulnerabilities, and shield against risks, including from non-market practices.

They expressed strong concern over China’s problematic and unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait that undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and European Union. They further reaffirmed the importance of upholding and promoting freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and discussed how to counteract risks in the areas of strategic stability and cybersecurity.

Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino recognized the importance of diplomacy with China, most notably where interests intersect and where constructive cooperation is possible. They debriefed on recent U.S. and EU high-level meetings with Chinese government officials, including in support of common goals in Iran and the Korean peninsula, and stressed the importance of results-oriented engagement on key transnational challenges, such as the climate crisis, health security, and trafficking in persons and drugs. Building on the recent U.S.-China and EU-China statements on climate action, they discussed working with Chinese government counterparts on policy matters such as reducing methane emissions and decarbonization, as well as sharing the results of these meetings.

Deputy Secretary Sherman and Secretary General Sannino decided to continue meetings in this dialogue at senior official and expert levels, with the next high-level meeting to take place in mid-2022.

Secretary Blinken to Participate in Reuters NEXT Virtual Global Conference

2 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will participate in the Reuters NEXT Virtual Global Conference at 1:30 p.m. EST, Friday, December 3.  He will take part in a conversation moderated by Reuters’ Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni.

This event will be livestreamed on www.state.gov.

For further information, please contact the Office of Press Relations at PAPressDuty@state.gov.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Andersson

2 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm.  The Secretary congratulated the Prime Minister on her historic role as the first female Prime Minister of Sweden and reaffirmed his support for the strong bilateral relationship.  They also discussed tackling shared challenges, including the climate crisis and COVID-19.

Secretary Blinken’s Call with Israeli Prime Minister Bennett

2 Dec

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett today. Secretary Blinken and Prime Minister Bennett affirmed the strong U.S.-Israel partnership and discussed regional security issues, including Iran and the ongoing talks in Vienna concerning Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the global challenge posed by COVID-19. The Secretary also strongly emphasized that Israel and the Palestinian Authority should refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution, including advancing settlement activity.