U.S. Response to Turkey’s Renewed Survey Activity in the Eastern Mediterranean

13 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States deplores Turkey’s October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO Allies Greece and Turkey.

Coercion, threats, intimidation, and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece. Unilateral actions cannot build trust and will not produce enduring solutions.

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Attack on a UN World Food Program Convoy in South Sudan

9 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States is deeply concerned by the attack on a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) humanitarian cargo convoy in South Sudan this week.  As a result of this attack, an aid worker remains missing and three are injured.  We express our sympathy to the family of the missing aid worker and wish the wounded a full and swift recovery.

Humanitarian aid workers in South Sudan and throughout the region work under extremely challenging conditions to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable men, women, and children.  This is the second attack on humanitarian cargo vessels in this area in the past two months.  We call on the Government of South Sudan to investigate this attack fully and expeditiously and provide the security necessary to ensure the safety of aid workers who are delivering critical life-saving services and assistance.

The United States is the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan, providing nearly $907 million in humanitarian aid in FY 2020 through UN and NGO partners.  We continue to stand with the South Sudanese people to help address their ongoing humanitarian needs and demonstrate the long-term commitment of the U.S. Government and international community to South Sudan’s stability.

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Update to Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Asia

4 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Tokyo, Japan on October 4 to 6.

Planned meetings with the Quad Foreign Ministers in Tokyo will focus on pressing issues of the Indo-Pacific region.

Secretary Pompeo expects to be traveling to Asia again in October and will work to reschedule visits on that trip, that is now just a few weeks off.

 

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On the Arrests of Hong Kong Protestors

4 Oct

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

We are outraged at the Hong Kong government’s arbitrary arrest of more than 80 people on October 1.  A stable and prosperous Hong Kong depends on honoring the rights of assembly, free speech, and other fundamental freedoms.  By repressing peaceful public opinion, the Hong Kong government once again shows its complicity with the Chinese Communist Party’s evisceration of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms of its people. We deplore the local authorities’ continued use of law enforcement for political purposes, which is contrary to the preservation of the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights to assembly and free expression.  These arrests again underscore Beijing’s complete dismantlement of One Country Two Systems that the PRC promised to uphold.

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Escalation of Violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan

27 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States is alarmed by reports of large scale military action along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone that has resulted in significant casualties, including civilians.  We extend our condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence.  Deputy Secretary Biegun called the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, and the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, to urge both sides to cease hostilities immediately, to use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation, and to avoid unhelpful rhetoric and actions that further raise tensions on the ground.

The United States believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions.  We urge the sides to work with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible.  As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping the sides achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the conflict.

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The United States Announces an Additional $5 Million for Education Cannot Wait

17 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Today, the United States announced $5 million to support Education Cannot Wait during its High-Level Advocacy Discussion, “The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind,” a virtual meeting of global leaders, education experts, and young people on the margins of the 75th United Nations General Assembly.  The United States has supported the Education Cannot Wait global fund since its inception to address the urgent education needs of millions of children in conflict and crisis situations.  This latest announcement brings total U.S. support for this fund to $40.3 million since 2017.

More than half of the world’s refugee populations are children below the age of 18, and many will spend their entire childhoods in countries of asylum.  Displaced children face heightened risks of abuse, violence, exploitation, and separation from their caregivers.  The United States, through the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, is providing this assistance to preserve safe spaces, allow access to information and other services, and lay the foundation for lifelong learning and hope for the future – needs highlighted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This support for Education Cannot Wait is part of longstanding U.S. leadership in humanitarian assistance and diplomacy that catalyzes international crisis responses and advocates for the world’s most vulnerable people.  Investing in the lives of crisis-affected children, their families, and their communities promotes a more secure world for us all.  The United States is proud to help lead the way in ensuring access to education in crisis responses and encourages even broader support for this initiative from other donors.

 

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Imposing Visa Restrictions on Nigerians Responsible for Undermining the Democratic Process

14 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy. We commend all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes. We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations. We condemn the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process. As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections near, we urge all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.

In a statement on January 24, 2019, the U.S. Government said we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organizing election-related violence. In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections. These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.

The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.

 

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Signing of an Enhanced Consular Privileges and Immunities Agreement with the United Arab Emirates

12 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States and the United Arab Emirates signed an Enhanced Consular Privileges and Immunities Agreement which will provide enhanced protections to Emirati and American consular staff serving their citizens in both countries.  This agreement will strengthen the ability of consular staff to protect the interests of citizens and advance national interests, and is a testament to the value that the United States and the UAE place on the safety and morale of their consular teams.  The UAE continues to be an important strategic partner in maintaining stability in the Gulf, protecting American interests in the Middle East, and ensuring the free flow of commerce throughout the Gulf region.  We are grateful for the strong bilateral partnership we continue to have with the UAE and look forward to future initiatives.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Doha, Qatar

10 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Qatar to attend the opening ceremony of Afghanistan peace negotiations on September 12.  The start of these negotiations follows intense diplomatic efforts, including the U.S.-Taliban Agreement and the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration, which were agreed to in February.

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On the Fires at the Moria Reception and Identification Center on Lesvos Island  

10 Sep

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

We are deeply saddened to hear of the fires that consumed the Moria Reception and Identification Center on the Greek island of Lesvos, which has resulted in the further displacement of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.  The United States is coordinating with the Government of Greece, the European Union, and our humanitarian partners to assess needs, and we continue to provide humanitarian assistance, including critical aid such as food, water, shelter, and protection to vulnerable refugees and migrants in Greece.  Over the past year, the United States has provided more than $8 million in humanitarian assistance to assist vulnerable people in Greece, including nearly $5 million to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.

We appreciate the Government of Greece’s efforts to coordinate with the international and humanitarian communities in order to relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable individuals.

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