Under Secretary Zeya’s Participation in the U.S.-Mexico Meeting on the Bicentennial Framework on Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities

31 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya led the U.S. delegation from Washington in a follow-on meeting of the October 2021 launch of the U.S-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue hosted virtually by Mexican Foreign Secretary Ebrard. National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez also joined the U.S. delegation.  The two governments approved bilateral objectives and agreed to undertake actions in support of the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework on Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities, including continuing to work toward developing indicators to jointly evaluate the impact of our cooperation.

During the meeting, Under Secretary Zeya conveyed the importance of bilateral cooperation to address shared security priorities, including reducing the production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs, especially synthetic drugs, and mitigating associated harms; disrupting illicit finance and weapons trafficking that enable transnational criminal organizations and increase violence; and building transparent, accountable, and equitable law enforcement and justice institutions.

For more information on the Bicentennial framework, please see INL’s Remarks, Reports, and Releases Webpage.

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Call with Romanian Foreign Minister Aurescu

31 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu today.  Deputy Secretary Sherman and Foreign Minister Aurescu reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership in addressing common threats and challenges, particularly in the face of Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank.  The Deputy Secretary praised Romania as a stalwart NATO Ally and both agreed to collaborate on Black Sea security issues and stand unified against Russian aggression.  The Deputy Secretary and Foreign Minister reiterated our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

ICYMI: Daily Beast – OPINION: Trump’s Cheerleaders Forget How Weak He Was With Putin

31 Jan

**ICYMI**

Key Point: “Even with Trump not occupying the White House, Republicans and the warped cogs in their giant message machine continue to see their mission as strengthening not the U.S. and our allies, but Russia; and serving not the national interests, but their own political self-interests.

“Drawing on the Trump playbook, their approach is not only facts be damned, but that history never happened. It is once again: ‘Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?’”

Daily Beast – OPINION: Trump’s Cheerleaders Forget How Weak He Was With Putin
By David Rothkopf
January 30, 2022

You would think that given the fact Donald Trump was impeached for illegally withholding congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, his supporters might take the current crisis as an opportunity to have a seat.

You would think that since Trump in June 2020 advocated for drawing down U.S. troops in Germany, and after having spent years weakening NATO with his attacks and criticisms, that the current urgent need for strength within the Western alliance would have Trumpists hitting their own mute buttons.

You would think that with Russia threatening the international order over the possibility of invading a sovereign neighbor, the Trump-cheering section would dial it down a bit given the 45th president’s signature public toadying to Vladimir Putin, the man who singlehandedly created the current crisis.

You might even think that since the response of the Biden administration to the current Russian threat has been dramatically more robust than the responses of the last three administrations to Putin’s aggressions, incursions, and violations of international law, that Team Trump might even offer up a little praise for the current president. After all, even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell did, for goodness sakes. There are vital national security interests at stake, after all.

This is precisely the sort of moment when, historically, America’s political parties have tried to tone down their partisan bickering and present a united front to the world. But no, not this GOP.

Even with Trump not occupying the White House, Republicans and the warped cogs in their giant message machine continue to see their mission as strengthening not the U.S. and our allies, but Russia; and serving not the national interests, but their own political self-interests.

Drawing on the Trump playbook, their approach is not only facts be damned, but that history never happened. It is once again: “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?”

They are taking short-term memory loss and turning into a movement, making cognitive dysfunction a requirement for admission into a MAGA fairyland in which rivers of Fox News disinformation continue to flow from the well-springs of Russian propaganda, in which heroes are magically transformed into villains, friends into enemies, and good into evil.

(Remember the hubbub in 2020 about science possibly having discovered a parallel universe in which key laws of physics were reversed? Sorry, science, but we did not need a complicated experiment in Antarctica searching for high-energy particles from outer space to find it. All you had to do was watch Tucker Carlson, the top-rated Fox News host who has gone so far off the deep end with his pro-Kremlin rants that even Russian media is worried his lunacy reflects badly on them.)

The frozen seafood heir turned human fountain of anti-American bullshit is not, however, the only Republican seeking the limelight these days to spew indefensible nonsense that only draws attention to their own past failings.

Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, wrote an op-ed for Fox News headlined: “Russia-Ukraine conflict puts Biden administration’s weakness on full display.”

It opens with a giant self-inflicted wound, making the case that the current administration is showing “abject weakness” by arguing that Biden was weak with Iran—ignoring the Trump administration’s gift to Iran of pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear treaty, thus freeing Iran to ramp up their region-destabilizing nuclear program, as has happened. Pompeo also says Biden was weak in Afghanistan for finally pulling the U.S. out of its longest war—an act that was hastened by Pompeo’s own negotiations with the Taliban and Trump’s decision to cut and run at an earlier date in a manner that would have been even more devastating. And Pompeo slams Biden for failing to be tough with China—a country with which Trump and his kids canoodled for profit even while he was in office.

[…]

Not noted, of course, in Pompeo’s prescription, were the steps the Trump team took to cozy up to Russia, undercut relations with Ukraine by firing an effective ambassador and withholding aid in exchange for help with a domestic political agenda, regularly criticize NATO, and—as noted above—withdraw US troops from Europe that are now central to Biden’s strong response to this crisis.

Pompeo is not alone.

[…]

Human weathervane Nikki Haley—who, like her colleagues, does not seem to remember Trump’s shameful display of kissing up to Putin at the expense of the U.S. intelligence community in Helsinki—stated: “Russia smells blood in the water because we have never had a president as weak as Joe Biden.”

Former Trump Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who undermined the U.S. intelligence community by turning his post atop it into a political operation regularly contradicting the findings of his own people, also had the audacity to criticize Biden—who has been put into the position of spending much of his term undoing the damage done by Trump and his team.

Who else chimed in? None other than disgraced former Speaker of the House turned crackpot-for-hire Newt Gingrich. 

[…]

The reality also holds that Trump’s record on Russia—and the damage he did with our allies and at home—set the stage for the crisis that Biden and his team are expertly managing today. Don’t forget Trump said on the campaign trail that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia and recognizing occupied Crimea as Russian land. His rationale? “The people of Crimea,” Trump said, “from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

[…]

In other words, not only are the GOP critiques of Biden’s handling of this crisis completely out of place, they are stunningly hypocritical and stunningly craven—even for this group of compulsive liars. It’s all part of a calculated disinformation campaign designed to both inflame the GOP base while also providing cover for the manifold errors and betrayals of the Trump years.

Finally, the GOP slanders are proof that, once again, the Trumpist GOP’s initial response to almost everything is projection. In their accusations that Biden is weak they reveal not only their fear that he is actually strong, but are projecting their own desperate weaknesses in bearing the impossible burden of having to defend their records as part of the worst of any American administration in history.

(MORE)

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White House Press Sec. Mocks Skyrocketing Crime Rates Caused by Democrats’ Policies: What Does That Even Mean?

31 Jan

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked Fox News’ coverage of Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies, saying, “what does that even mean,” during a recent interview.

Psaki’s comments reinforce the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats’ inability to take seriously the rising crime rates that are endangering American communities and our nation’s law enforcement.

Biden’s crime crisis is directly tied to radical Democrats’ support for the defund the police movement.

DEMOCRATS’ CRIME CRISIS:

  • Following a year of defunding the police rhetoric from President Biden and Congressional democrats, over a dozen major U.S. cities had record high homicide rates in 2021.
    • At least 16 U.S. cities have set new homicide records in 2021, according to local police departments.
    • In 2021, there were 346 officers shot, 63 of whom were killed by gunfire.
    • In 2021, there were 103 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers, a 115% increase from 2020.

DEMOCRATS WHO SUPPORT DEFUNDING THE POLICE: 

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Republicans *STILL* Don’t Have A 2022 Platform 

31 Jan

We’re less than a year – 281 days to be exact – away from the 2022 elections, and Republican lawmakers have yet to release any sort of plan or policy platform. But who’s surprised? The Republican Party also refused to put out a new platform in 2020, and once again they’re displaying a blatant lack of interest in addressing the issues that matter to working families. 

The contrast for voters is clear: while President Biden and Democrats are using every tool at their disposal to lower costs and give families a little breathing room, Republicans’ grand plan is to do nothing at all – and even try to stand in the way. 

Republicans have made clear they have no agenda, platform, or positive vision for our country. 

NBC News: “It’s the minimum that voters often expect of congressional candidates: Spell out what it is they would do if elected. Yet inside the Republican Party, key leaders are split on whether to roll out any sort of governing agenda ahead of the midterm elections in November.”

New York Times: “Many Republicans say they see no need for any course correction — or to put forward a positive agenda in an election year they say will boil down to a referendum on Mr. Biden.”

NBC News: “When Trump ran for re-election in 2020, the party didn’t release a platform laying out Republican priorities; Trump was the platform. Heading into the midterm campaign season, McConnell is similarly opaque when it comes to his caucus’s priorities should it retake the majority.”

New York Times: “‘I’ll let you know when we take it back,’ Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said at a news conference this month when asked what his party’s agenda would look like if it won control of Congress.”

While President Biden and Democrats are fighting to lower costs for working families, Republicans have no plan to address the issues that actually matter to Americans – like making health care more affordable, creating jobs, and combating inflation.

Washington Post: “It was unclear what the party would have to say about one of the biggest issues in recent years: the long-standing GOP effort to unravel or repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

HuffPost: “GOP lawmakers spoke out against many of the social safety net programs proposed by Democrats in their Build Back Better agenda, such as affordable child care, paid family leave and monthly checks for parents. But they haven’t proposed much policy of their own to address such issues.

“Republicans also fought mask requirements and vaccine mandates while blaming Biden for failing to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control as he promised. They unanimously opposed relief programs, such as stimulus checks and expanded unemployment insurance.

[…]

“Earlier this month, for example, a group of Republican senators introduced a bill to address rising inflation, which eats into workers’ earnings. The legislation would prohibit the passage of all future bills ‘that would be estimated to increase inflation until the year-over-year inflation rate drops below 4.5 percent.’ In essence, their answer on inflation is to do nothing and wait it out.”

###

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Questions for Congressional Republicans Back In Session

31 Jan

Congress is back in session after a recess where Republicans spent their time trying to take credit for legislation they voted against while they floundered without a vision for the future. Now that they’re back, we, once again, have some questions for them as they continue to stall progress and refuse to hold members of their party accountable for extremist values.

Every Republican in Congress owes their constituents some answers:

  • Donald Trump said on Saturday that if in power, he would consider pardoning January 6 rioters. Would you support pardons of the people who stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, and threatened your life?
     
  • How do you explain to voters that the majority of your party – or even yourself – voted against historic investments in your district’s infrastructure?
     
  • We’re less than a year away from the midterm elections. Why won’t Republicans say what they’re running on in 2022?

###

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U.S. Department of State Concludes $840,000 Settlement of Alleged Export Violations by Torrey Pines Logic, Inc. and Dr. Leonid B. Volfson

31 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The U.S. Department of State has concluded an administrative settlement with Torrey Pines Logic, Inc. (TPL) of San Diego, California and Dr. Leonid B. Volfson, to resolve alleged violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), 22 U.S.C. § 2751 et seq., and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 C.F.R. Parts 120-130.  The Department of State, TPL, and Dr. Volfson have reached this settlement following an extensive compliance review by the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

This agreement pursuant to ITAR § 128.11 resolves alleged ITAR violations involving the attempted unauthorized export of defense articles; the unauthorized export of defense articles to various countries, including the People’s Republic of China and Lebanon, which are proscribed destinations under ITAR § 126.1, and Russia, a country that was, at the time of the violations, subject to restrictive measures on defense exports per the Department of State public announcement on April 28, 2014; the involvement in ITAR-regulated activities while ineligible; and the failure to maintain and produce records.

The settlement demonstrates the Department’s role in strengthening U.S. industry by protecting U.S.-origin defense articles from unauthorized exports.  The settlement also highlights the importance of obtaining appropriate authorization from the Department before exporting ITAR-controlled defense articles.

Under the terms of the 36-month Consent Agreement, TPL and Dr. Volfson will pay a civil penalty of $840,000.  The Department has agreed to suspend $420,000 of this amount on the condition that the funds will be used for Department-approved Consent Agreement remedial compliance measures to strengthen TPL’s compliance program.  In addition, for the duration of the Consent Agreement, an external Special Compliance Officer will be engaged by TPL to oversee the Consent Agreement, which will also require the company to conduct one external audit of its compliance program and implement additional compliance measures.

These terms reflect the cooperation TPL and Dr. Volfson provided to the Department.  They submitted a voluntary disclosure, which included a third-party audit report that identified various export violations; cooperated with the Department’s investigation by responding to numerous requests for additional information; and entered into successive agreements with the Department extending the statute of limitations period for certain violations.

The Consent Agreement and related documents will be available for public inspection in the Public Reading Room of the Department of State  and on the Penalties and Oversights Agreements section of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls’ website.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at pm-cpa@state.gov.

Appointment of Ambassador Jacobson as Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. at Embassy Addis Ababa

31 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, will serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Ambassador Geeta Pasi plans to retire to pursue other opportunities.

Distinguished by her previous assignments, including as Ambassador to Kosovo, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Ambassador Jacobson will lead U.S. engagement in Ethiopia.  The Secretary of State selected Ambassador Jacobson to continue the work undertaken by Ambassador Pasi to press for an immediate cessation of hostilities, an end to ongoing human rights abuses and violations, unhindered humanitarian access, and a negotiated resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia.

The Department of State expresses its great appreciation to Ambassador Pasi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, for her distinguished public service in advancing the values and interests of the United States around the globe, a career marked by three ambassadorial assignments and senior State Department leadership positions in Washington, D.C.  We are particularly grateful for her stewardship of Embassy Addis Ababa during an exceptionally complex period.

Increasing Pressure on the Burmese Military Regime and Its Supporters

31 Jan

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Since the military coup of February 1, 2021, the people of Burma have stood firm in rejecting military rule and calling for their country’s return to the path to inclusive democracy.  Tragically, in its continued violent quest to consolidate control, the regime has killed nearly 1,500 people, including women and children, and detained some 10,000 more, including civilian officials, civil society and labor activists, journalists, and foreign citizens.

On the one-year anniversary of the coup, the United States is imposing sanctions on the Directorate of Procurement of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services; on Tay Za, a prominent business supporter of the regime, and his adult sons, Htoo Htet Tay Za and Pye Phyo Tay Za; and on prominent business supporter of the regime Jonathan Myo Kyaw Thaung and his KT Services and Logistics (KTSL) Company Limited.  Today’s action also includes the designation of Supreme Court Chief Justice Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General Thida Oo, and Anti-Corruption Commission Chair Tin Oo for their role in enabling the regime to undermine the rule of law and Burma’s democratic institutions.  These actions were taken pursuant to Executive Order 14014.

We are coordinating these actions with the United Kingdom and Canada to demonstrate the international community’s strong support for the people of Burma and to further promote accountability for the coup and the violence perpetrated by the regime, including the killing of at least 35 people including children and humanitarian workers in Kayah State on Christmas Eve last year.  The United States will continue to work with our international partners to address human rights abuses and press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and restore Burma’s path to democracy.

For more information about today’s action, see Treasury’s press release .

On Lunar New Year

31 Jan

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

I send my best wishes to those in the United States and around the world celebrating the Lunar New Year on February 1.

As we reflect on the year behind us and welcome the year ahead of us, the United States will continue to work to advance a peaceful and prosperous future. We welcome all nations and peoples to join us in the effort to build a better world for future generations.

May the Year of the Tiger bring opportunity, success, and good health to all.