Belarus National Day

3 Jul

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Today is Belarus’ official Independence Day.  On behalf of the United States of America, I send my warmest wishes to the people of Belarus, wherever they may be.

On Independence Day, despite being an occasion to celebrate hard-won freedoms, Belarusians remain unable to determine their country’s future or express their views without fear of harsh reprisal. For the second year in a row, too many Belarusian families will mark this Independence Day separated from their loved ones, as more than 1,200 political prisoners languish in prisons for trying to exercise the freedoms this day is supposed to symbolize.

The United States stands with the people of Belarus, who continue to seek the promise of true independence, and demonstrate great courage in pursuit of freedom, democracy, and accountability.

U.S. Delegation Meeting with Taliban Representatives

1 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

On June 29 and 30, Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West led another senior interagency delegation including representatives from the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue discussions with senior Taliban representatives and technocratic professionals in Doha, Qatar.

The United States expressed condolences for the loss of life and suffering in Afghanistan caused by recent earthquakes and outlined robust U.S. support, including $55 million in new assistance from USAID for the delivery of life-saving shelter, sanitation, and hygiene materials for affected populations, and to support the ongoing crisis across the country.  The two teams discussed the international community’s humanitarian support for Afghanistan, including over $774 million provided by the United States since August 2021.  In this regard, the United States registered concerns regarding increased interference by the Taliban in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  Both sides agreed on the critical importance of maintaining uninterrupted access to basic healthcare throughout the country while addressing concerns regarding transparency in delivery of services.  Regarding economic stabilization, the United States welcomed a recent payment of arrears owed to international financial institutions and discussed U.S. support for steps to enhance the availability of afghani currency in the economy.  The two sides discussed in detail U.S. actions to preserve $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as steps to build international confidence in the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank.

The Taliban’s ongoing and expanding restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and girls was a central focus of U.S. officials’ engagement with the Taliban.  The United States supports the Afghan people’s demands that girls be allowed to return to school and that women be allowed to work, contribute to the country’s economic growth, and move and express themselves freely, lines of effort that Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri is leading in coordination with her inter-agency colleagues.  Special Representative West made clear the critical linkage between progress on protection of Afghans’ rights and steps toward normalizing America’s ties with the Taliban.

The two sides noted an interest in additional exchanges regarding counternarcotics, and disaster response preparedness.

The Taliban reiterated their pledge to not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used by anyone to threaten any country.  U.S. officials expressed concern regarding the continuing presence of al-Qaida, ISIS-K, and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.

$820 Million in New U.S. Military Assistance for Ukraine

1 Jul

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Ukrainians continue to face a brutality highlighted once again this week by an attack that struck a shopping mall filled with civilians.  They continue to fight for their country, and the United States continues to stand by them and their just cause.  As the United States prepares to commemorate our independence, we remain committed to the independence, security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Pursuant to a delegation of authority from the President, I am authorizing our fourteenth drawdown of arms and equipment from U.S. Department of Defense inventories for Ukraine’s self-defense since August 2021 of up to $50 million.  This authorization, along with the Defense Department’s parallel announcement of $770 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, will bring total U.S. military assistance to Ukraine to more than $6.92 billion since Russia launched its brutal, unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Our commitment to the Ukrainian people will not waver, and we will continue to stand united with Ukraine.

IN ALL 50 STATES: Dems Fight for Choice as GOP Pushes Abortion Bans

1 Jul

In the week since the Supreme Court issued its decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Democratic state parties, local elected officials, Democratic candidates and health care advocates and providers across the country have been calling out Republicans for their efforts to ban abortion – even in cases of rape and incest – while Democratic governors and lawmakers are taking decisive action to protect Americans’ right to make their own health care decisions.

Here’s a look at local coverage from all 50 states on how Democrats are defending choice and blasting Republicans for their efforts to outlaw abortion and take away Americans’ rights:

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IN THE STATES: As GOP Works to Ban Abortion, Dems Defend Choice

1 Jul

In the states this week, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade has initiated a number of  unpopular GOP-led trigger laws and abortion restrictions that are making their way through state legislatures. As Republicans move quickly to ban abortion in the states, Democrats at every level — from the statehouse to the courthouse — are fighting to defend choice. 

Earlier this week, the DNC released a digital ad that calls out Republicans’ plans to ban abortion nationally, generating local coverage nationwide. 

Meanwhile, Democrats are mobilizing across the country to stand up against abortion bans — holding Republicans accountable for their decades-long campaign to strip Americans’ of their right to choose. 

It has only been a week since Roe v. Wade was overturned and Republicans are already pushing their extreme, anti-choice agenda even further — and they aren’t holding back on how far they want to go. For MAGA Republicans, it is a race to be the most extreme as they make clear they’ll push to expand restrictions on reproductive health care.

And while MAGA Republicans continue to push their abortion bans to dangerous extremes, Democrats– from governors, to attorneys general, to local prosecutors, and more – are fighting to maintain access to care, vowing to push back against restrictions, and creating legislation to protect the right to choose. 

The post IN THE STATES: As GOP Works to Ban Abortion, Dems Defend Choice appeared first on Democrats.

Reaffirming Our Commitment to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

1 Jul

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On this day 54 years ago, the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) opened for signature in London, Moscow, and Washington, DC.  Today, the United States reaffirms its commitment to this critical treaty and celebrates the immeasurable contribution it has made to the security and prosperity of the nations and peoples of the world.

The NPT has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the looming threat – then and now – that nuclear weapons would proliferate across the globe.  In so doing, the NPT has served the interests of all its parties and limited the potential risk of a devastating nuclear war.  It has also expanded access to the astonishingly diverse benefits of the peaceful uses of the atom, whether for electricity, medicine, agriculture, or industry.

When the 10th Review Conference of the NPT opens one month from today, the United States will highlight the treaty’s enduring role in reducing global dangers – whether by facilitating arms control, safeguarding peaceful nuclear activities, or deterring violations – as we work toward our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  We look forward to working with all parties to preserve and strengthen this important treaty.

Under Secretary Fernandez’s Travel to Spain

1 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Jose W. Fernandez, is visiting Spain June 29 through July 5, 2022, to participate in the U.S.-Spain Forum in Bilbao, and engage with government officials, business leaders, and civil society members to support our shared objectives regarding commerce, investment, and clean energy initiatives.  This annual conference brings together members of the United States-Spain Council and its counterpart, the Fundación Consejo España – EE.UU., with leaders from the public and private sectors of both countries to address important bilateral issues.  At the conference, Under Secretary Fernandez will focus on building partnerships to promote increased green investment that further job growth, economic inclusion, and opportunities for citizens in Spain, the United States, and across the region.

For press inquiries, contact E_Communications@state.gov.