International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists   

1 Nov

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

A free press is essential to an informed citizenry.  A vigorous press can, for instance, expose corruption, shine a light on human rights abuses, and provide the public essential information during crises.  In many places, journalists fulfilling this necessary role risk attacks by authoritarian regimes and criminal organizations seeking to clamp down on press freedom and freedom of expression.  More than 1,500 journalists have been killed worldwide since the turn of the century, and in more than 85 percent of cases, the killers go unpunished.

Journalists around the world also face harassment, threats, arbitrary detentions, and politically motivated prosecutions.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, authoritarian governments in China, Venezuela, Iran, and elsewhere have used COVID-19 as an excuse to threaten, detain, and attack journalists.  Female journalists face specific risks, including cyber trolling, reputational slander, and other gender-based threats and violence.

Governments enable impunity by failing to redress these abuses and crimes against journalists, and by committing abuses as well.  Nongovernmental organizations rank China, North Korea, and Turkmenistan among the worst countries in the world for press freedom, while Syria and Mexico are among the most dangerous.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt imprison more journalists for their reporting than other countries.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the United States calls for governments to undertake independent and transparent investigations into threats, attacks, and murder when they occur; reform police practices that enable mistreatment of journalists; and abolish laws and practices limiting their freedom of expression.

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Updated – Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, and Vietnam

28 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to New Delhi, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Malé, Maldives; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Hanoi, Vietnam October 25 – 30.

In New Delhi, Secretary Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and their Indian counterparts will lead the third annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and expand cooperation to promote stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world.

Secretary Pompeo will travel to Colombo to underscore the commitment of the United States to a partnership with a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advance our common goals for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Thereafter, Secretary Pompeo will travel to Malé to reaffirm our close bilateral relationship and advance our partnership on issues ranging from regional maritime security to the fight against terrorism.

The Secretary will travel to Jakarta to deliver public remarks and meet with his Indonesian counterparts to affirm the two countries’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Secretary Pompeo will then travel to Hanoi to meet with counterparts to reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership and promote our shared commitment to a peaceful and prosperous region.

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Highlights of 2020 U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

27 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper joined Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar for the third annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi, India.  The two nations welcomed the elevation of the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, which is vital to security and stability in the region and the world.

During the meeting, Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed the increasingly close U.S.-India relationship and the shared goals among like-minded Indo-Pacific countries for regional security and prosperity.  The two nations welcomed the second Quad meeting, held at the Foreign Minister level on October 6, and looked forward to close collaboration during India’s upcoming term on the U.N. Security Council.  Secretary Pompeo and his counterparts reaffirmed U.S.-India healthcare collaboration to develop vaccines, therapeutics, and essential medical equipment. They welcomed an initiative to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and other emerging threats.  They looked forward to an overarching Memorandum of Understanding to enhance health cooperation.  Secretary Pompeo and his counterparts also discussed increased cooperation on energy, space, sustainable financing for infrastructure development, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism, and looked forward to new collaboration in those areas.  The two sides reaffirmed the close bonds between our people and welcomed the inaugural Parliamentary exchange later this year.

The Secretary and his counterparts also discussed ways to advance the 21st century defense partnership.  They welcomed increased cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries by expanding information-sharing, defense trade, joint service coordination, and interoperability. They also welcomed increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation, including the upcoming MALABAR naval exercise.  Both sides welcomed the conclusion of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement to expand geospatial information sharing between our armed forces and committed to the exchange of additional liaison officers.

On behalf of the United States, Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Esper extended a warm invitation to their Indian counterparts for the next U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, to be hosted in Washington, D.C.  The leaders looked forward to another year of close cooperation between our countries to further advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

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Congratulations on Seychelles’ Elections

25 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States congratulates the Government of the Republic of Seychelles and the Seychellois people on a successful election and looks forward to a peaceful transfer of power.  The commitment of the Seychellois people to the democratic process has ushered in a new chapter in their country’s history.  This achievement represents another major milestone in Seychelles’ democracy.

We congratulate Reverend Wavel Ramkalawan on his election and look forward to expanding cooperation on a wide range of mutual interests including maritime security, good governance, and fighting drug abuse, piracy, and terrorism.

 

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Designation of Additional PRC Propaganda Outlets as Foreign Missions

21 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Over the past decade, and particularly under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s tenure, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has asserted greater control over China’s state-backed propaganda outlets while trying to disguise them as independent news agencies.  General Secretary Xi himself has stated, “Party-owned media must. . . embody the party’s will, safeguard the party’s authority … their actions must be highly consistent with the party.”  While free media around the world are beholden to the truth, PRC media are beholden to the CCP.  Today, the United States is publicly recognizing that reality through these designations.

Pursuant to authorities under the Foreign Missions Act, the State Department is issuing today a new determination that designates the U.S. operations of Yicai Global, Jiefang Daily, Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, Beijing Review, and Economic Daily as foreign missions.  These six entities all meet the definition of a foreign mission under the Foreign Missions Act in that they are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by a foreign government.  In this case, they are effectively controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China.

The decision to designate these entities does not place any restrictions on what these organizations may publish in the United States.  It simply recognizes them for what they are – PRC-controlled propaganda outlets. This action follows the February 18 designation of Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation, and Hai Tian Development USA and the June 22 designation of China Central Television, China News Service, the People’s Daily, and the Global Times.

Entities designated as foreign missions must adhere to certain requirements that increase transparency relating to their associated government’s media activities in the United States. Our goal is to protect the freedom of press in the United States, and ensure the American people know whether their news is coming from the free press or from a malign foreign government. Transparency isn’t threatening to those who value truth.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia

21 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to New Delhi, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Malé, Maldives; and Jakarta, Indonesia October 25 – 30.

In New Delhi, Secretary Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and their Indian counterparts will lead the third annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and expand cooperation to promote stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world.

Secretary Pompeo will travel to Colombo to underscore the commitment of the United States to a partnership with a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advance our common goals for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Thereafter, Secretary Pompeo will travel to Malé to reaffirm our close bilateral relationship and advance our partnership on issues ranging from regional maritime security to the fight against terrorism.

The Secretary will travel to Jakarta to deliver public remarks and meet with his Indonesian counterparts to affirm the two countries’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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U.S. Nominates Christopher Liddell for OECD Secretary General

20 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States is pleased to nominate Christopher Liddell as the U.S. candidate for the position of Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD is a uniquely valuable forum where the United States works with the other advanced free market democracies to develop best practices and standards that enhance growth and create jobs.

A native of New Zealand, Christopher Liddell is currently Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination at the White House. Before his government service, Mr. Liddell served as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of General Motors, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Microsoft Corporation, and Chief Financial Officer of International Paper. As Secretary General of the OECD, Mr. Liddell will draw upon decades of high-level public and private sector experience to ensure the OECD pursues a focused and impactful member-driven agenda.

We thank outgoing Secretary General Ángel Gurría of Mexico for his years of service, and look forward to working with other OECD members to select a Secretary General to lead this vital organization in the post-COVID period and to analyze and debate policies that will lead to strong economic growth around the globe.

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Progress on New START

20 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control.

The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same.

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Attacks on Civilians in Salah al-Din Governorate, Iraq

19 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States strongly condemns the massacre of innocent civilians by Iran-backed militias in Salah al-Din governorate.  This occurred within hours of an attack by Iran-backed militias on the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s branch office in Baghdad.  The Government of Iraq needs to immediately exert control over the Iran-backed militias who are lawlessly attacking religious and ethnic minorities, peaceful protesters and activists, political party headquarters, and diplomatic missions.  The perpetrators of this violence must be brought to justice.  The actions of these groups are preventing the international community from helping Iraq and are leading Iraq towards sectarian violence and instability.  We urge all parties to act responsibly and work together to help Iraq overcome its economic challenges, security challenges, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Attack on Kurdistan Democratic Party Baghdad Office

18 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States strongly condemns the attack on the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s branch office in Baghdad by Iran-backed elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces. The ability to speak freely and critically is a vital component of any democracy, and political parties should be able to engage in robust debate without threat from militias and thugs. The destabilizing activities of Iran-backed militias operating outside of Government of Iraq control are inflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions and undermining democracy. We strongly urge all parties to behave responsibly during this critical period in which Iraq is already dealing with a pandemic, an economic crisis, and the continued threat of ISIS.

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