Albania National Day

28 Nov

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

As Albania celebrates its National Day, I extend congratulations on behalf of the United States Government and the American people.

This year, we also celebrate the European Union’s decision to open accession negotiations for Albania, a sign of the significant progress that Albania has made in implementing the reforms necessary for EU membership.  We commend Albania for its leadership as the 2020 OSCE chair and appreciate all that it has done to demonstrate its commitment to the Transatlantic community.  Albania plays a central role in helping ensure peace and stability as part of the NATO Alliance, and the United States stands by Albania as a steadfast Ally.

I wish safety and health to the Albanian people as we work together to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

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The United States Condemns the Conviction of the Citgo 6

28 Nov

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States unequivocally condemns the wrongful convictions of the Citgo 6, in a proceeding that should be described as a kangaroo court.  After canceling their initial appearance before a judge dozens of times over the last three years, the illegitimate Venezuelan legal system suddenly convicted and sentenced these oil executives without any evidence.  Having already spent over three years wrongfully detained in Venezuela on these specious charges, the majority of the time in horrific prison conditions, these six individuals should be immediately returned to the United States.

 

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Joint Statement of the Fourth United States-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue

27 Nov

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the State of Kuwait.

Begin text:

The governments of the United States of America and the State of Kuwait held the fourth U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on November 24, 2020.  U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo hosted Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah for the concluding session of the Dialogue.  Our two countries took the opportunity this year to reaffirm our shared commitment to promote the stability and security of the region.  Bilateral working groups met over the preceding two weeks and advanced our strategic partnership in political, human rights, development, defense, security, trade, investment, education, consular affairs, customs, border protection, and health.  Today’s Dialogue builds on the March 2019 Strategic Dialogue meetings in Kuwait and represented over a year of work by the Strategic Dialogue’s working groups.  In addition to starting the fourth Dialogue, we are marking the inauguration of a sixth working group focused on political, human rights, and development cooperation.

This Strategic Dialogue process, begun in October 2016, has materially benefitted both nations, and today we are taking further steps to serve our people.  The Strategic Dialogue and its working groups help set our bilateral agenda for the next year on some of the most pressing issues in the world.  A stronger relationship between the United States and Kuwait is a powerful statement for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.

Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Al-Sabah are pleased to announce today that the Foreign Minister, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, together with USAID Chief Assistant to the Acting Deputy Administrator Max Primorac, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Kuwait Fund and USAID.  This MOU opens a strategic channel for global development cooperation to share priorities and experiences in sectors such as energy, stabilization, and food security.  The Secretary and Foreign Minister are also pleased to announce the signing of an MOU to facilitate cooperation on health issues, medical research, and knowledge-sharing and a Declaration of Intent to negotiate a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).  The Secretary and Foreign Minister are also pleased that Kuwait issued a statement that it intends to review and consider the benefits of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (“Budapest Convention”).

The Secretary and Foreign Minister recognize this year marks the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield, and next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two nations.  Both sides will continue to work together to commemorate and celebrate these milestones in U.S.-Kuwait cooperation and friendship.  As a result of decades of close collaboration, Kuwait has become a regional leader in the promotion of peace and security.  We look forward to decades more of our mutually beneficial partnership.

Political Cooperation

The United States acknowledged the lifelong efforts of His Highness the late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in mediating regional disputes and bridging divides.  His Highness was a close friend of the United States and a tremendous force for peace and cooperation in the region.  Looking to the future, the United States is committed to a strong partnership with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti government.

Earlier this month, the United States and Kuwait held the inaugural meeting of the Political, Human Rights, and Development Working Group.  This Working Group represents a significant deepening and broadening of the bilateral relationship and is intended to provide a forum to discuss and achieve progress on political and regional issues of mutual interest, including human rights, labor reforms, and development and humanitarian assistance.

During this Working Group, the United States and Kuwait discussed the most pressing regional political issues, including the Gulf dispute, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

The United States reiterated its appreciation for both the late and current Amir’s sustained mediation efforts to reach a settlement of the dispute among GCC members.  The United States and Kuwait renewed their call for a resolution to the dispute.  Our countries share a common view of the need for GCC unity in effectively confronting the region’s many challenges, and in promoting peace and prosperity in the region.

The United States recognizes the continuous efforts taken by Kuwait towards maintaining security and stability in Iraq.  The importance of a stable government in Iraq, free of malign foreign influence, is a clear objective of both the United States and Kuwait.  We support the ongoing meetings of the Joint Iraq-Kuwait Higher Ministerial Committee and applaud its efforts to resolve the question of the maritime boundary.  We also welcome efforts by Kuwait and Iraq to retrieve and return Kuwaiti remains from the Gulf War.  This work exemplifies how countries can emerge from conflict and develop mutual respect and a commitment to shared interests.  The United States also welcomes Kuwaiti efforts to stabilize Iraq and bring it closer to its Gulf neighbors.  Both countries reaffirmed Iraq’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.

Our delegations reiterated the need for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to help end the Syrian conflict and bring lasting stability to that country.  The United States and Kuwait are committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS and the removal of all external forces from Syria.

The United States and Kuwait discussed the importance of using only trusted vendors in critical information and communications technology infrastructure.  The United States also looks forward to continuing to collaborate in international fora to support religious freedom around the world.

Our two nations strongly believe Lebanon must embrace reform.  We call for accountability, transparency, and political reform that puts the needs of the Lebanese people first.  We appreciate Kuwait for being the first country to provide emergency relief after the Beirut port explosion and for continuing to look for ways to help Lebanon rebuild.

The United States welcomed the GCC efforts to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran.  The United States and Kuwait stand together against the destabilizing influence of the Iranian regime across the Middle East.

The United States appreciates Kuwait’s significant contributions to peace and security in some of the world’s most troubled regions and its willingness to provide direct assistance to internally displaced persons, as well as to refugees hosted in other countries.  Kuwait is an important aid donor, and Kuwait’s goals of regional stability and prosperity are shared by the United States.  The United States also welcomes Kuwait’s continued humanitarian assistance for Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and for Rohingya refugees.  The world will benefit from the efforts of two of the world’s largest providers of humanitarian aid and development assistance.

The United States and Kuwait remain committed to ending trafficking in persons, a modern form of slavery.  The United States welcomes Kuwait’s recent efforts at combatting trafficking in persons amid COVID-19.  We commend the recent passage of Kuwait’s first law to target domestic violence and look forward to its implementation, including prioritization of victim protection.  We also agreed to continue our close collaboration to advance labor rights.  The United States welcomes Kuwait’s decision to request accession to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Prisoners, which will allow us to establish procedures for prisoner transfers between the United States and Kuwait.

Defense Partnership

The United States and Kuwait reaffirm their steadfast commitment to the national security of both countries and to the stability of the Middle East.  The United States expresses its deep appreciation for Kuwait’s leadership in mediating solutions to regional military challenges and for its dedication to a strong defense cooperation relationship.  The United States and Kuwait have successfully adapted and continue operations through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has strengthened our bond and built greater resiliency between our armed forces.

The military leadership of both countries seek a secure future for regional stability through the continued modernization of Kuwait’s armed forces and its increased interoperability with the United States and other like-minded countries across the full range of military operations.  The Kuwait-U.S. defense partnership is built on a long-term, integrated strategy encompassing modernization, sustainability, infrastructure, training, exercises, and operations.  The Joint Military Commission will continue to guide the development and refinement of this strategy and the investment required to quickly project power, deter aggression, and counter threats.  The U.S. military leadership commends and appreciates the longstanding security cooperation between the two militaries and the generous support U.S. forces receive from Kuwait.

Security Cooperation

The United States and Kuwait are steadfast partners in the fight against terrorism.  Together, we are making the Kuwaiti and American people more secure.  The United States and Kuwait intend to promote national security by developing coordinated strategies and approaches to defeating terrorism both at home and abroad.  The United States reiterated its appreciation for Kuwait’s cooperation and facilitation in the effort to ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS.

Both countries intend to further steps to combat the financing of terrorism.  We appreciate Kuwait’s continued commitment to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism practices, increased information sharing, and support for joint action against terrorist financiers through multilateral fora, such as the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC).  Training of Kuwaiti prosecutors and regular workshops provided by the United States are helping the Kuwaiti government bring those engaged in the support or financing of terrorism to justice.  The United States and Kuwait intend to continue this collaboration.

 

The United States welcomes the joint Declaration of Intent to negotiate a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which was signed during the Dialogue.  An MLAT would enhance the ability of the United States and Kuwait to pursue their law enforcement objectives by creating a regularized channel for obtaining evidence and law-enforcement cooperation for use in criminal prosecutions and investigations.  Such a regularized channel would strengthen law enforcement in both countries.

The United States welcomes Kuwait’s letter expressing its intent to review and consider the benefits of the Budapest Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (“Budapest Convention”).  The Budapest Convention provides a comprehensive and coherent framework on cybercrime and electronic evidence. It serves as a guideline for any country developing comprehensive national legislation against cybercrime.  In addition, the Convention provides a framework for international cooperation among State Parties to the Convention by establishing harmonized domestic criminal legislation in the field and providing a legal framework for transnational law enforcement cooperation in investigations, evidence sharing, and extradition.

The United States and Kuwait expressed their intent to enhance cybersecurity and the cyber defense capability of the Government of Kuwait, including its financial institutions and critical infrastructure through training, technical assistance, and information sharing.  The United States intends to advance mutual security and counterterrorism goals by aiding Kuwait in mitigating malicious cyber activities.

The United States supports Kuwait’s efforts to build a more diversified, innovative, and knowledge-based economy.  The United States stands ready to partner with Kuwait as it develops clean IT networks free from the threat of data piracy and security vulnerabilities.

Trade and Investment

Increased trade and investment ties between Kuwait and the United States have contributed to the growing prosperity of both countries.  Two-way trade reached more than $4.5 billion in 2019.  Bilateral investment positions remain strong due to enhanced cooperation in the investment field.  We continue to work on initiatives in healthcare, enhancing the regulatory framework to improve the business and investment climate, and improving cybersecurity.  Both countries intend to seek ways to continue reducing barriers to trade and investment.

Growing commercial relations between the United States and Kuwait complement our close official bilateral relations.  During the Fourth Annual U.S.-Kuwait Economic Forum on November 17, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) met to discuss next steps towards deepening the U.S.- Kuwait economic relationship and commercial opportunities.  The U.S.-Kuwait Business Council, composed of corporate members from both countries, celebrated its first year of existence with a discussion with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Kuwait has been an active long-term investor in the United States, mainly through the Kuwait Investment Authority.  The United States recognizes the efforts of KDIPA in facilitating investment procedures in Kuwait.  Kuwait Vision 2035 provides potential fertile ground for further direct investment in Kuwait.

The United States commends Kuwait for making significant improvements to its intellectual property regime.  The improvements were reflected in the United States Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report in 2020.  The State of Kuwait appreciates the praise from the United States on intellectual property rights issues and related legislation.  Our two countries will continue to take steps to increase the effectiveness of Kuwait’s intellectual property enforcement efforts against counterfeit and pirated goods.

COVID-19 challenges the economies of all the countries of the world.  The United States and Kuwait are strengthening their bilateral relationship in healthcare and healthcare management.  The MOU signed between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Kuwait’s Ministry of Health is intended to enhance cooperation in the areas of public health, biomedical research, medical technology, and medical sciences, further improving critical knowledge-sharing and exchange of best practices for effectively responding to the pandemic.

Educational and People-to-People Ties

Five generations of Kuwaitis have studied in the United States.  Every year, both countries continue to encourage Kuwaiti young people to join the thousands of Kuwaitis currently studying in the United States.  Graduates of U.S. universities become leaders in government, business, and academia.  The United States and Kuwait intend to continue to work together to improve the quality of English teaching, expand college advising, and increase U.S. university outreach to Kuwaiti students, to afford the increasing numbers of Kuwaiti students access to world-class educational options available in the United States.

During the 2017 Strategic Dialogue, the United States and Kuwait signed an MOU for cooperation in the field of higher education, which has already resulted in many productive academic and professional exchanges.  We intend to continue to cooperate closely to prepare Kuwaiti students to succeed at quality U.S. educational institutions.

In the field of English training, this year the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education and the U.S. Embassy jointly launched an intensive English course for Kuwaiti public school teachers and intend to train local teachers to administer this course.  For the past year, the U.S. Embassy has also funded an afterschool English course for underprivileged students in Kuwait.

In support of exchange programs for youth, the U.S. Department of State, the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, and the Kuwait College of Science and Technology will work together to implement the Stevens Initiative, a virtual exchange program for university students in the United States and Kuwait.  Additionally, the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences plans to sponsor a group of Kuwaiti high school students to attend the EducationUSA Academy, whenever conditions allow for the resumption of in-person exchanges.

The United States and Kuwait continue to build on the Statement of Intent on Cultural Cooperation that the two countries signed last year by expanding the range of cultural visitors between the two countries.  This year, U.S. and Kuwaiti artists are collaborating to produce musical tributes and visual art pieces to mark the 30th anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation and the shared sacrifices of our people during that time.

The two governments also discussed further areas of collaboration, including increasing professional and academic exchanges through educational and cultural exchange programs such as the Fulbright Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and the U.S. Speakers Program.

Consular Affairs, Customs, and Border Protection

We reaffirmed our commitment to the security, safety, welfare, and just treatment under the law of our nationals in Kuwait, the United States, and around the world.  We welcomed the progress of both countries in providing consular notification and access to detained citizens.  The United States and Kuwait are working to enhance our partnership to prevent and resolve international parental child abductions according to the laws and regulations in both countries.  The United States looks forward to further discussions with Kuwait to enhance bilateral cooperation to reduce the number of cases in which one parent takes children without the consent of the other parent.

We concluded the addendum for the Automated Targeting System-Global (ATS-G) and Interconnection Security Agreement (ISA) in 2019.  Our countries remain committed to operationalizing a system under this agreement to allow our two nations to detect potential threats to border and national security, and identify known and suspected terrorists, foreign fighters, and transnational criminals.

The United States welcomes Kuwait’s decision to request accession to the Council of Europe Prisoner Transfer Convention.  Once Kuwait formally accedes, this will establish the basic requirements and procedures for prisoner transfers between the United States and Kuwait.

The United States welcomes Kuwait’s decision to renew the MOU between the Ministry of Finance’s General Administration of Customs (KGAC) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to facilitate the continued presence of CBP personnel in Kuwait for the purposes of enhanced cooperation on border security issues.

For the benefit of both countries, Kuwait reiterated its longstanding interest in becoming a pre-clearance border point to the United States.

Looking Ahead

The United States and Kuwait reiterated our commitment to further increasing cooperation in all areas of practical benefit to our governments and our peoples.

Today, we set a roadmap for the advancement of our relations in the coming year.  Bilateral working groups held over the past weeks will continue to work together to: better operationalize Kuwaiti and U.S. defense systems; modernize jointly-used military facilities; extend information sharing and cooperation to thwart acts of terrorism; strengthen our collaborative efforts to advance human rights; enhance cybersecurity; expand trade and investment; protect and enforce the intellectual property rights of Kuwaitis and Americans; broaden our educational and research linkages; cooperate to provide high quality, cost-effective healthcare;  and facilitate travel between our countries.  We look forward to making further progress in these areas when the Dialogue takes place next year in Kuwait.

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The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations and the American Council of Engineering Companies Sign Memorandum of Understanding

27 Nov

Office of the Spokesperson

On November 16, 2020, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of improving the implementation of OBO’s design and construction program and the value of the engineering disciplines and engineering services that support OBO’s mission. The MOU solidifies and builds on the communication and collaboration already underway and further bolsters the relationship between OBO and the building industry.

The MOU outlines several opportunities for collaboration between the organizations, including: embracing innovative business practices that enhance the security, quality, value, and sustainability of OBO projects; utilizing appropriate emerging technologies; advancing education and research and development; and promoting qualifications-based selection of the procurement of architecture and engineering services.

The MOU was signed by OBO Director Addison D. “Tad” Davis, IV and ACEC CEO and President Linda Bauer Darr on behalf of their respective organizations.

OBO provides safe, secure, functional, and resilient facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and that support U.S. diplomats in advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad.

For further information, please contact Christine Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov or visit www.state.gov/obo.

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The United States Sanctions Libyan Individual and Militia Connected to Serious Human Rights Abuse in Libya

27 Nov

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions on Mohamed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia in connection with the massacre of hundreds of civilians in recent years.  Al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia, which al-Kani leads, are designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets serious human rights abuse and corruption.  Prior to a de facto truce in Libya reached in June 2020 and while aligned in 2019-2020 with the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) offensive against the Libyan capital, the Kaniyat militia conducted a campaign of extrajudicial violence in the Tripoli region.  Following the end of the Tripoli offensive, Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces re-entered the town of Tarhouna and discovered at least 11 mass graves containing the bodies of civilians previously detained by the Kaniyat militia – the bodies included those of women, children, and the elderly.  Some of the deceased reportedly appeared to have been tortured, burned, or buried alive.  Months later, bodies are still being recovered from additional mass graves.

The U.S. Government nominated al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia to the UN Security Council’s 1970 Libya Sanctions List on November 13.  We are deeply disappointed that Russia blocked the proposed designations, especially in light of the well documented human rights violations.  Russian intransigence only reinforces the need for the international community to seek accountability and end impunity, which has fueled the conflict in Libya.

We remain concerned about Libyan and external actors working to undermine stability in Libya and UN peace efforts, including the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.  The United States continues to support the international fact-finding mission; the Berlin Process, including its International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Working Group; and Libyan authorities working in Tarhouna to address cases of missing persons.

These designations show that the United States will take concrete actions in response to serious human rights abuse which contributes to the undermining of Libya’s peace, security, and stability.

For further information, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release available here.

 

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Communiqué on the 2020 Conference on Afghanistan

27 Nov

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is the text of a joint communiqué issued by the 66 countries and 32 international organizations participating in the 2020 Afghanistan Conference.

Begin text:

The 2020 Afghanistan Conference took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with participants from 66 countries and 32 international organizations. The Conference was held in a virtual format and it was co-hosted by the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland and the United Nations. The event took place under extraordinary circumstances, at the beginning of the final four-year cycle of the Transformation Decade, shortly after the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Conference, the participants renewed their long-term commitment to support Afghanistan in seizing this historic opportunity on its path towards peace, prosperity and self-reliance and to continue efforts for the benefit of all Afghans. The participants committed to reconvene to review progress and pledges at a Senior Officials Meeting in 2021 and in a Ministerial Meeting in 2022.

  1. We, the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (hereafter called the Afghan Government) and the international community along with other partners underline our commitment to establish a renewed partnership to strengthen a sovereign, unified, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan that is on a path towards prosperity and self-reliance for the benefit of all Afghans. Under this partnership, we welcome the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II and the Afghanistan Partnership Framework and undertake to be mutually accountable in supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve tangible results in the field of peace-building, state-building, and market-building.
  2. We acknowledge the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace and an end to the war, and recognize that a sustainable peace can be achieved only through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process that is internationally supported. We call for earnest efforts by all to realize lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  3. In keeping with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2513, we welcome the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations on September 12, 2020, aiming for an inclusive political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive peace. We further welcome the efforts of all regional and international partners of Afghanistan in this regard and recognize the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and of all other Afghan actors, including the two negotiating teams in facilitating the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations. We acknowledge that significant progress in the peace negotiations in the spirit of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2513 is a key factor for the delisting within the United Nations Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988(2011).
  4. We call for an inclusive and meaningful peace process with the participation of women, youth and ethnic, religious and other minorities. We affirm that any political settlement must protect the rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities. It should respect the strong desire of Afghans to achieve durable peace and prosperity, and must respond to the strong desire of Afghans to sustain and build on the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001, including adherence to the rule of law, respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, and improving inclusive and accountable governance.
  5. We underscore the importance of the Afghan Government’s efforts, which the international community is committed to support, to fulfill its commitment to a unified, sovereign, peaceful and democratic Afghanistan. We emphasize the need for a meaningful role for civil society, including the independent media, in this process. While respecting the sovereign right of the Afghan people to decide on the nature of the future political settlement, we underscore that the outcome, as outlined in paragraph four, above, will shape the future of international support and assistance.
  6. We highlight that international development assistance and South-South cooperation bear great importance to Afghanistan’s economic and social development. We call on the international community to continue their financial support to Afghanistan, with the aim of helping Afghan people to achieve peace, reconstruction and development at an early date.
  7. We acknowledge that security and stability are vital to sustainable development. We express deep concern about the continuing high level of violence and the security situation in Afghanistan, especially the number of civilian casualties and call for an immediate permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, and full respect of International Humanitarian Law.
  8. We further express deep concern about the threat posed by terrorism to Afghanistan and the region, express serious concern over the continuing presence of ISIL, Al-Qaida as well as other international terrorist organizations and their affiliated groups in Afghanistan. We condemn in the strongest terms all terrorist activity and all terrorist attacks and reaffirm the importance of ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used by ISIL, Al-Qaida or other international terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country, and that neither the Taliban nor any other Afghan entity, group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any country.
  9. We emphasize the importance of supporting the Afghan Government in capacity building, in particular of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) including the Afghan National Police (ANP) in securing their country and in their fight against terrorism.
  10. We stress the important role and long-term commitment of the United Nations in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and welcome UNAMA’s ongoing efforts in the implementation of mandated tasks.
  11. In the spirit of mutual accountability, we underscore the importance of the Afghan Government’s actions and the commitment from the international community to support the efforts of the Government in fulfilling its commitments to improve governance and the rule of law, including transitional justice as an essential component of the ongoing peace process, budget execution and the fight against corruption throughout the country.
  12. We highlight the importance of regional cooperation, with a view to promoting stability and peace, as well as assisting Afghanistan in utilizing its unique geopolitical and geographical position as a land bridge to promote regional cooperation and connectivity, based on transparency, openness and inclusiveness with the aim of enhancing dialogue and collaboration to advance shared goals of economic development across the region.
  13. We express concern over the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan which continue to pose a threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond, and call upon the Afghan Government and the international community to strengthen efforts to counter this threat through international, regional and sub-regional cooperation.

14.We acknowledge the economic development achieved by Afghanistan with the support of the international community in the past years, notably through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and recall the critical role the private sector, revenue generation and a conducive business climate, that includes the participation of women, will continue to play in this regard. We highlight the need for renewed vigor in implementing economic reforms and undertake to renew our long-term support and assistance to the Afghan people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. We call for all relevant parties to work closely to facilitate the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return, rehabilitation and reintegration of the Afghan refugees and express appreciation to those regional countries, in particular Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, that continue to host them.
  2. We further call for continued cooperation between the Afghan Government, international partners, and neighboring countries to stem irregular migration through enhanced collaborative efforts to fight migrants smuggling and human trafficking networks.
  3. We note that humanitarian aid will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future and access of humanitarian actors must be ensured throughout the country in full abidance to humanitarian principles.
  4. We recognize the profound challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and their impact on Afghanistan and the well-being of its citizens, notably women, and express continued readiness to support the Afghan people towards a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable recovery.
  5. We look forward to a Senior Officials Meeting in 2021 and a biennial ministerial meeting in 2022 to review progress as Afghanistan is approaching the end of its Transformation Decade.

End text.

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Travel of Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Ambassador J. Peter Pham to Mali

27 Nov

Office of the Spokesperson

U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Ambassador J. Peter Pham will travel to Bamako, Mali from November 28 to November 30, 2020 to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Support Group to the Transition in Mali, co-hosted by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the United Nations. The United States supports this African-led initiative and its goal to coordinate and harmonize the efforts of international partners looking to support the implementation of critical priority actions and reforms during Mali’s transitional period.

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Bret Baier of Fox News Special Report

27 Nov

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Via Teleconference

QUESTION:  Earlier this week, my colleague, Bret Baier, had an exclusive interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  Here’s the second part of that conversation.

QUESTION:  Joining us now, the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Great to be back with you, Bret.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  The last time we talked, you had just come off saying that the Trump administration would be into its second term, essentially.  You have come to the conclusion that this transition process is happening even as the legal challenges continue?  Will you be right-seat/left-seating with the incoming team?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I remember when I was the incoming guy at the Central Intelligence Agency.  The United States has one secretary of state at a time, but we know right-seat/left-seat.  We’ll have one secretary of state and one president for the duration.  But those things that are required that the President has directed us to do in compliance with the decision that the GSA made yesterday, we’ll do all of those things.  It’s a legal requirement, and we’ll always honor that promise.

QUESTION:  When it comes to Afghanistan, where are you on zero troops in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, it’s the mission set.

QUESTION:  But I mean before January 20th?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, the President will obviously make the decision on that.  The President to date has said that we’re going to go from where we are today, something just over 4,000, to around 2,500.  But Bret, don’t fall in the trap of thinking about America’s security related to the number of soldiers on the ground in any one place.  The threat from terrorism around the world – from Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism – is real.  It doesn’t just emanate from Afghanistan.

We have the force posture right today.  We’re going to keep it right.  We’ll get our troops home when we can, and we’ll do the things we need to do.  If Qasem Soleimani is a problem, we’ll go crush them.  If Hamza bin Ladin presents a risk, we’ll take him out.  President Trump has been very clear we’re going to protect and secure the homeland, but we’re not going to have our young men and women in harm’s way when it doesn’t deliver real security benefits for the United States and for our allies.

QUESTION:  I guess some people look at it when you stood for that photo with the Taliban in February and the signed accord and the negotiations were still ongoing, the deal was down to 4,500, not 2,500.  Was that somehow changed by the troop numbers that the President put out, and did it hurt the negotiations with the Taliban?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  No, Bret, the agreement we signed in February talked about getting down to zero by May based on a set of conditions on the ground.  That was what we’d agreed to.  We have made some progress.  We’ve had significant prisoner releases.  We have violence levels that have reduced risks to Americans significantly over this time period since February of last year.

Afghanistan’s violence levels are still higher than they need to be.  I was with the Afghan Government negotiators and with the Taliban negotiators just this past weekend in Dota, Qatar.  I talked to each of them about the need to continue to conduct the negotiations which will lead to a unified, independent Afghanistan that protects all the gains that have been made over these past years, and the fact that they need to take violence levels down even further, and that the Taliban need to honor the commitment they made to make sure that there’s not a terror attack that takes place from Afghan soil.

Those are the parts of the negotiation that continue.  There is still work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction.  We are safer here in the United States today as a result of the things the Trump administration has done not only in Afghanistan but throughout that region.

QUESTION:  What is your most memorable moment as Secretary of State?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Bret, that’s a great question.  I haven’t had a chance to reflect on it.  I guess if I were to give you my quick response, it was really something to come back from Pyongyang with three Americans and travel home with them from Asia and return them to their families.  Those folks had been held in harm’s way.  They were at real risk, and we got a chance to bring three Americans home that morning back at the very beginning of my time as Secretary of State.  It was pretty special to do that.

QUESTION:  What’s next for you?  Elected office, private sector?  What is it?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  It’s hard to know, Bret.  We’ll keep doing this until we’re tapped on the shoulder and told it’s no longer time to be the Secretary of State, and then Susan and I will figure that out.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thank you.

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Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Recommends Suspending Consultative Status of 187 Entities, Reinstating 56, in Exceptional Resumed Session

27 Nov

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) held an exceptional one‑day 2020 resumed session today owing to the COVID‑19 pandemic, during which it recommended suspending the consultative status of 187 organizations with the Economic and Social Council due to their failure to provided quadrennial reports for a specified period.