On U.S. Seizure of Iranian Gasoline Intended for the Illegitimate Maduro Regime

14 Aug

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Today, the Department of Justice announced the successful seizure of over one million barrels of Iranian gasoline intended for the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela. The proceeds from these shipments would have allegedly benefitted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Our diplomacy, led by Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, was able to both halt these shipments and assist the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in executing a U.S. seizure order for the gasoline cargo issued on July 2, 2020. We note that the proceeds from the Iranian gasoline, if successfully forfeited in U.S. courts, could now support the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund instead of those engaging in terrorism, like the IRGC.

We are seeing more and more global shipping fleets avoiding the Iran-Venezuela trade due to our sanctions implementation and enforcement efforts. The United States remains committed to our maximum pressure campaigns against the Iranian and Maduro regimes.

 

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The Conviction of Eight Members of the Hien Phap Group in Vietnam

13 Aug

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The U.S. government is deeply concerned about the Vietnam’s conviction and sentencing of eight members of the Hien Phap civil society organization in Vietnam to more than 40 years in prison.

Although we have seen the Government of Vietnam take some positive steps on human rights in certain areas in Vietnam over the past few years, we are troubled about the growing trend of arrests of and harsh sentences for peaceful activists since early 2016.  The United States calls on Vietnam to release all those who have been unjustly detained and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely, without fear of retaliation.

Free and open societies around the world are strengthened when individuals exercise their right to freedom of expression.  We urge the Vietnamese government to ensure its actions are consistent with the human rights provisions of Vietnam’s constitution and its international obligations and commitments.

 

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to the Dominican Republic

12 Aug

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 16 to head the U.S. delegation to the presidential inauguration of Luis Abinader. The Dominican Republic is a key partner and ally in the Caribbean, and Secretary Pompeo’s visit reaffirms our strong ties. While in Santo Domingo, the Secretary will meet with President Abinader to discuss opportunities to strengthen our partnership and focus on promoting transparency, democracy, and security in the region. Together, we will overcome challenges from the pandemic and revitalize our economies.

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Trump Administration Approves Updated Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Export Policy

24 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Today, the administration announced an update to the 2018 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Export Policy which affects one of America’s most innovative industries. With this revision, the U.S. government will invoke its national discretion on the implementation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)’s ‘strong presumption of denial’ for transfers of Category I systems to treat a carefully selected subset of MTCR Category I UAS with maximum airspeed less than 800 kilometers per hour as Category II.

All proposed transfers affected by this change will continue to be subject to the same rigorous review criteria outlined in the United States’ UAS Export Policy, the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, and the Arms Export Control Act, as well as the specific nonproliferation criteria identified in the MTCR Guidelines. This policy change modernizes our approach to implementing our MTCR commitments to reflect current technological realities and helps our allies and partners meet their urgent national security and commercial requirements.

The United States remains a committed member of the MTCR and regards it as an important nonproliferation tool to curb the spread of high-end missile technologies to countries such as North Korea and Iran. Preventing the use and spread of WMD and their means of delivery remains an administration priority.

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2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN)

24 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on July 27 and 28 when they co-host the 2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations at the Department of State.

The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss ways in which our two countries can expand and deepen our unbreakable alliance in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

 

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Terrorist Attack near Azaz, Syria

20 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack near a marketplace in Sudju, near Azaz and the Bab al Salam crossing. Initial reports indicate the attack killed eight and injured over 80, some of whom are in critical condition. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those harmed in this senseless tragedy.

As we have stated in the past, such acts are unacceptable by any side in this conflict, and attacks against civilians are never justified.

We again remind all parties that violence impedes the hope for a lasting political resolution to the conflict in Syria in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254. We also reiterate our support for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, as called for by UN Special Representative Geir Pedersen.

 

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Assad Regime’s Parliamentary Elections

20 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Yesterday, the Assad regime held so-called Parliamentary Elections in Syria. Bashar Al Assad is seeking to present this dubious election as a success against alleged Western plotting, but in reality it is simply another in a long line of Assad’s stage-managed, unfree votes in which the Syrian people have no real choice.

Syria has seen no free and fair elections since Assad’s Ba’ath party came to power, and this year was no exception. We have seen credible reports of polling staff handing out ballots already filled in with Ba’ath party candidates. Reports of citizens being pressured to vote were common, and voter privacy was not guaranteed.  In addition, Syrians residing outside the country – comprising nearly one quarter of Syria’s pre-revolution population – were not permitted to vote. This disenfranchised population includes the more than 5 million refugees driven out of the country by the regime’s relentless war against its own citizens.

Per UN Security Council Resolution 2254, elections in Syria should be “free and fair,” “under the supervision of the United Nations,” and “with all Syrians,” including those in the diaspora, eligible to participate. Until the Assad regime and its government allow and adhere to these conditions the international community will view these rigged elections for what they are:  another attempt by the regime to confer false legitimacy on itself and to avoid implementing the political process that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 requires.

 

 

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Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to the UK and Denmark

15 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to London, UK, and Copenhagen, Denmark, July 20 to July 22.

While in London, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to discuss global priorities, including the COVID-19 economic recovery plans, issues related to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Hong Kong, and the U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

In Copenhagen on July 22, Secretary Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to discuss the pandemic, the PRC, and other matters.  The Secretary will also meet with Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod, Faroese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Education Jenis av Rana, and Greenlandic Minister of Foreign Affairs and Energy Steen Lynge to discuss opportunities for closer cooperation between the United States and the Kingdom of Denmark in key areas of mutual concern.

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On the Death of General Paik Sun-yup

14 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States extends its sincerest condolences to the people of the Republic of Korea on the death of General Paik Sun-yup.  As Korea’s first four-star general, his service to his country in the Korean War was emblematic of the fight for the values of freedom and democracy, values that both the United States and the Republic of Korea continue to uphold today.  In his work as a diplomat and a statesman, General Paik served his country with great distinction and helped to forge the U.S.-ROK Alliance.  In the spirit of our shared sacrifice, we offer our deepest sympathies and gratitude for his service.

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Violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijan International Border

14 Jul

Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijan international border.  We urge the sides to stop using force immediately, use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation, and strictly adhere to the ceasefire.

As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains strongly committed to helping the sides achieve a lasting, peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We will remain actively engaged in efforts to accomplish that goal.

The United States joins the Minsk Group Co-Chairs in calling for the sides to resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible and in emphasizing the importance of returning OSCE monitors to the region as soon as circumstances allow.

 

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