Russia and the Assad Regime’s Superficial Support for Syrian Refugees

14 Nov

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

The refugee conference hosted November 11-12 in Damascus by the Assad regime and Russia was not a credible attempt to create the conditions necessary for voluntary and safe refugee returns to Syria. The lack of support for this conference beyond the regime’s narrow group of allies demonstrates that the world recognizes stunts like this one for what they are – mere theatrics.

Regrettably, the Assad regime, with Russian backing, is seeking to use millions of vulnerable refugees as political pawns in an attempt to falsely claim that the Syrian conflict is over. The Assad regime is responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 of its own citizens, the bombing of numerous hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian support to millions of Syrian citizens. These are not the actions of a government that can be trusted to determine when refugees might safely return, nor should Assad hold power over directing international reconstruction funds.

The United States supports the return of refugees when conditions allow for them to return voluntarily and safely. We stand with the countries that continue to host millions of refugees. The United States remains the single largest humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis. Over the last year, the United States provided nearly $1.6 billion in humanitarian assistance to address the Syria crisis, half of which supports the needs of Syrian refugees and the generous communities that host them. This includes more than $121 million to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our total humanitarian assistance for the crisis response inside Syria and across the region since the start of the conflict is more than $12 billion.

The United States remains committed to the Syrian people and to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, which is the only path to a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

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Expulsion of UK Diplomats from Belarus

11 Nov

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

The United States expresses solidarity with the United Kingdom and condemns the harassment and expulsion of two UK diplomats from Belarus on November 9.  This arbitrary and unjustified act by Belarusian authorities is only the latest attempt to hide the daily harassment and repression everyday Belarusians, including activists and members of the media, continue to face in their fight for democracy.

The United States continues to call on the Belarusian authorities to cease their crackdown and heed the demands of the Belarusian people for free and fair elections under independent observation.

 

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia

11 Nov

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia November 13 – 23.

In Paris, the Secretary will meet with President Macron, Foreign Minister Le Drian, and other senior officials to build on our transatlantic work on economic and security matters, and on counterterrorism and global threats.

Following Paris, Secretary Pompeo will travel to Istanbul, Turkey to meet with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world.

The Secretary’s last stop in Europe will be Tbilisi, Georgia to meet with President Zourabichvili, Prime Minister Gakharia, and Foreign Minister Zalkaliani, to express our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to urge further progress in democratic reforms.  He will also meet with the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Ilia II.

The Secretary will then travel to Israel where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Abraham Accords, and our joint efforts to address Iran’s malign activities.  Next, he will travel to the United Arab Emirates and meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayd to discuss security cooperation and regional issues.  He will also travel to Qatar to meet with Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including the importance of Gulf unity.

The Secretary’s final stop will be in Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Attacks by the Terrorist PKK Organization in the IKR

5 Nov

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

The United States strongly condemns the attacks by the terrorist PKK organization yesterday against Kurdistan Regional security officials in Iraq. We remain steadfast in our support for Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi and the Kurdistan Regional Government in their efforts to root out terrorism, and we extend our sympathy and condolences to the families of those killed and injured in these attacks.

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U.S.-Sudan Signing Ceremony on Bilateral Claims Agreement

2 Nov

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

Last week, the United States and Sudan signed a bilateral agreement to resolve claims arising from the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. The agreement also provides for the transfer of compensation for victims of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the 2008 killing of U.S. Agency for International Development employee John Granville. This agreement is the culmination of more than a year of negotiations between both countries. It memorializes Sudan’s agreement to provide $335 million in compensation for victims of terrorism, which will be released to the United States following the rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation and the enactment of legislation that would restore its immunities to those of a country not so designated.

We hope that this historic signing will facilitate a sense of justice and resolution for victims and their families, while helping to usher in a new chapter in the U.S.-Sudan relationship.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Cyprus

12 Sep

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Cyprus on September 12. In Nicosia, he will meet with President Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Christodoulides to discuss continuing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and deepening the U.S.-Republic of Cyprus bilateral relationship, as well as to affirm U.S. support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots as well as the wider region.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, and Poland

6 Aug

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Prague and Pilsen, Czech Republic; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Vienna, Austria; and Warsaw, Poland August 11 to August 15.

While in Pilsen, Secretary Pompeo will join Foreign Minister Petricek to commemorate the liberation of Western Czechoslovakia by the U.S. Army in World War II.  In Prague, the Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Babis to discuss nuclear energy cooperation, the Three Seas Initiative, and efforts to counter malign actions of Russia and communist China.  He will also have a courtesy call with President Zeman.

In Ljubljana on August 13, Secretary Pompeo will meet with President Pahor and Prime Minister Jansa to discuss opportunities for closer cooperation between the United States and Slovenia in key areas of mutual concern, including nuclear energy and Western Balkan integration.  The Secretary will also join Prime Minister Jansa for remarks on 5G information security after signing a Joint Declaration on 5G technology with Foreign Minister Logar.

In Vienna on August 14, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Foreign Minister Schallenberg and Chancellor Kurz to discuss the U.S.-Austria Strategic Partnership, our strong and growing trade and investment relationship, and regional security issues.  The Secretary will also meet with IAEA Director General Grossi.

While in Warsaw on August 15, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Morawiecki  and Foreign Minister Czaputowicz to discuss areas of strong U.S.-Poland cooperation, including deepening defense ties, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, securing 5G networks, and improving regional energy and infrastructure through the Three Seas Initiative.  The Secretary will also meet with President Duda.  The Secretary’s visit also commemorates the centennial of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish forces defeated the Bolsheviks.

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Killing of Tahir Naseem

30 Jul

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

We are shocked, saddened, and outraged that American citizen Tahir Naseem was killed yesterday inside a Pakistani courtroom.  Mr. Naseem had been lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who then used Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to entrap him.  The U.S. Government has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Naseem and his family since his detention in 2018 and has called the attention of senior Pakistani officials to his case to prevent the type of shameful tragedy that eventually occurred.  We grieve with the family of Mr. Naseem. We urge Pakistan to immediately reform its often abused blasphemy laws and its court system, which  allow such abuses to occur, and to ensure that the suspect is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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Osman Kavala Should be Released

27 Jul

Cale Brown, Deputy Spokesperson

As of this week, Turkish philanthropist and civil society leader Osman Kavala has spent 1,000 days in detention without being convicted of any crime. The United States underscores the importance of respecting international obligations and commitments. We call upon Turkey to comply with its own commitment to justice and rule of law and to release Osman Kavala from detention, while pursuing a just, transparent, and speedy resolution to his case.

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