United States – Estonia Joint Statement on Secure Telecommunications Infrastructure

23 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by United States Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Mr. Keith Krach and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Mr. Urmas Reinsalu on the importance of secure telecommunications infrastructure.

Begin Text:

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu and Under Secretary Keith Krach emphasized the United States´ and Estonia´s strong commitment to shared principles on 5G security and internationally accepted digital trust standards that are rooted in the Clean Network. They discussed ways for further advancing their cooperation in securing critical telecommunications infrastructure and ensuring clean technology supply chains during the meeting on September 23, 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia.

As a global leader in digital governance, Estonia has been among the strongest advocates for secure telecommunications infrastructure, cybersecurity, and advancing the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. The U.S. has demonstrated similar commitment and leadership by Secretary Pompeo’s call for governments and companies to join the rapidly growing Clean Network which is a comprehensive approach to address the long-term threat to data privacy and security, built on a coalition of trusted partners.

Recognizing that 5G networks need to be constructed based on free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law, Estonia and the United States issued a Joint Declaration on 5G Security in November 2019.

Since then, both sides have worked to further these principles. Estonia and the United States have taken steps to implement strong domestic measures to enhance 5G security and protect personal and business data.

Additionally, Estonia and the United States have cooperated in international organizations and with other nations to advance their shared vision for developing digital societies in a secure and transparent manner. Both countries have been strong advocates for secure telecommunications infrastructure and cybersecurity. Estonia and the United State confirm their commitment to the cyber stability framework and continue working together in the UN and other fora on upholding existing international law as well as implementing norms of responsible state behavior and confidence-building measures. Recognizing the importance of security in the digital domain, both sides agreed to further their cooperation bilaterally, in regional formats as well as in international organizations.

Minister Reinsalu and Under Secretary Krach agreed on the importance of using trusted vendors to ensure that next-generation technologies, data, and intellectual property are protected from theft and manipulation by malign actors. They emphasized their shared vision for requiring an end-to-end, 5G-standalone communications path for our overseas facilities that do not use any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment from untrusted vendors. As such, Minister Reinsalu welcomed the 5G Clean Path Initiative, announced by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on April 29, and stated that Estonia sees this initiative as part of the continuation of the work of promoting the implementation of the Prague Proposals and the best practices of security in digital development, which Estonia shares.

End text.

 

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Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Nathan A. Sales Travels to Lithuania

20 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Nathan A. Sales will travel to Lithuania Monday, September 21 for meetings with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice Minister of Interior, representatives of the President of Lithuania’s National Security and Foreign Policy Groups, and other senior national security and foreign policy officials.  He will congratulate Lithuania on its recent actions against the terrorist group Hizballah.  Ambassador Sales will also participate in a video teleconference with senior government officials from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss shared efforts against Hizballah.

Acting with the authorities of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Ambassador Sales will meet with representatives of Lithuania’s Jewish community to discuss combating anti-Semitism. He will also meet with members of Belarusian civil society to discuss how the United States can support the Belarusian people’s demand for free and fair elections and an end to the Belarusian authorities’ violent post-election crackdown.

 

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Joint Statement on Internet Shutdowns in Belarus

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine.

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We, the signatories, are deeply troubled by and condemn the recently reported and ongoing use of partial and complete Internet shutdowns, as well as targeted content blocking, by the Government of Belarus in the aftermath of the fraudulent 2020 Belarusian presidential elections. Shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services unjustifiably limit the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, especially when they lack procedural fairness and transparency. In conjunction with restrictive measures and intimidation employed against opposition candidates and the mass arrests and detentions of Belarusian civil society members and journalists, actions to limit access to the Internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, further erode civic space. We will continue to stand with the people of Belarus, who are making their voices heard in spite of these oppressive measures, and we are especially heartened by the critical and central role women are playing in calling for fairness and accountability.

Civic space online is integral to a vibrant civic space off-line. Governments should not block or hinder Internet connectivity, as shutdowns often undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression that form the basis of a democratic society. Internet shutdowns impact all users, especially marginalized groups and those in vulnerable situations. Shutdowns limit media freedom and the ability of journalists and human rights defenders to report on human rights violations or abuses and hold governments accountable. Shutdowns and restrictions also limit the dissemination and free flow of information, harm economic activity, contribute to social and political disorder, and negatively affect public safety.

Human rights must be protected online just as they are protected off-line. We call on Belarusian authorities to refrain from Internet shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services and to respect Belarus’s international human rights obligations, including under articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We call on the Government of Belarus to respect civic space, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.

Independent, transparent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations in the context of the election must be conducted and the perpetrators brought to justice.

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United States – Republic of Lithuania Memorandum of Understanding on 5G Security

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following memorandum of understanding was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Lithuania on September 17, 2020.

Begin Text:

Taking into account that secure fifth generation wireless communications networks (5G) will be vital to both future prosperity and national security, the Republic of Lithuania and the United States declare their desire to strengthen cooperation on 5G. 5G will enable a vast array of new applications, including the provision of critical services to the public, which will benefit our citizens and our economies. Increased amounts of data on 5G networks will further interconnect the economies of the world, including the Republic of Lithuania and the United States, and facilitate cross-border services and commerce. Protecting these next generation communications networks from disruption or manipulation and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and the United States are vital to ensuring that our citizens are able to take advantage of the tremendous economic opportunities 5G will enable.

Therefore, the Republic of Lithuania and the United States welcome efforts such as the Council of the European Union “Conclusions on the significance of 5G to the European economy and the need to mitigate security risks linked to 5G” and the “Prague Proposals” as important steps toward developing a common approach to 5G network security, and ensuring a secure, resilient, and trustworthy 5G ecosystem. These proposals emphasize the need to develop, deploy, and commercialize 5G networks based on the foundation of free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law.

The Republic of Lithuania and the United States emphasize the importance of encouraging the participation of reliable and trustworthy network hardware and software suppliers in 5G markets, taking into account risk profile assessments, and promoting frameworks that effectively protect 5G networks from unauthorized access or interference. The Republic of Lithuania and the United States further recognize that 5G suppliers should provide products and services that enable innovation and promote efficiency. These products and services should also enable fair competition and encourage downstream development by the maximum number of market participants. The Republic of Lithuania and the United States each expressed their belief that all governments have a shared responsibility to undertake a careful, balanced evaluation of 5G hardware and software suppliers and supply chains to promote a secure and resilient 5G architecture.

To promote a vibrant and robust 5G ecosystem, a rigorous evaluation of suppliers should take into account the rule of law; the security environment; ethical supplier practices; and a supplier’s compliance with secure standards and industry best practices. Specifically, evaluations should include the following elements:

1) Whether network hardware and software suppliers are subject, without independent judicial review, to control by a foreign government;

2) Whether network hardware and software suppliers are financed openly and transparently using standard best practices in procurement, investment, and contracting;

3) Whether network hardware and software suppliers have transparent ownership, partnerships, and corporate governance structures; and

4) Whether network hardware and software suppliers exemplify a commitment to innovation and respect for intellectual property rights.

The Republic of Lithuania and the United States believe that it is critical for countries to transition from untrusted network hardware and software suppliers in existing networks to trusted ones through regular lifecycle replacements. Such efforts will not only improve national security, but also provide opportunities for private sector innovators to succeed under free and fair competition and benefit our respective digital economies.

The Republic of Lithuania and the United States intend to cooperate in promoting investments and information sharing in the areas of information and communication technologies and cybersecurity to decrease the security risks in developing, deploying and operating 5G networks and future communication technologies. Further the Republic of Lithuania and the United States intend to collaborate on raising awareness of the importance of 5G security among the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allies.

End text.

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Guyana and the United States: More Than 50 Years Of Friendship

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

“Democracy ultimately prevailed in Guyana. The United States stands ready to work with our Guyanese neighbors after this historic transition.” 

–U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, August 31, 2020

Secretary Pompeo will travel to Georgetown, Guyana, September 17-18.  He will meet with newly elected President Irfaan Ali and his cabinet, as well as CARICOM Secretary-General LaRocque.  Secretary Pompeo will reinforce the promise of a values-based U.S. partnership rooted in inclusive governance, private-sector investment to increase prosperity for the people of Guyana, and greater rule of law, as Guyana grows its economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 THE U.S.-GUYANA RELATIONSHIP IS ROOTED IN DEMOCRACY

  • The U.S. Guyanese diplomatic relationship is more than 50 years old, and the cultural ties between our countries is exemplified by the thousands of Guyanese diaspora who call the U.S. their home.
  • U.S. support for Guyana’s recent presidential elections, including electoral observation missions, were crucial to ensuring that the election was free, fair, credible, and transparent and reflected the will of the Guyanese people.
  • We stand together with diverse population of Guyana, as inclusive and transparent governance will be key to building a sustainable future.

ADVANCING PROSPERITY AND CONFRONTING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

  • We are committed to helping Guyana build an attractive investment climate with the right regulations and protections in place.
  • The United States is the primary source of Guyana’s imports, worth more than $2 billion. Today’s signing of a Growth in the Americas Memorandum of Understanding seeks to draw more U.S. private sector investment to build Guyana’s physical infrastructure, energy sector, and digital economy, and to do so transparently.
  • The United States supported the development of Guyana’s energy sector through technical partnership on best practices for energy sector policy, regulation, and revenue management. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance supports training and development within the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Large Taxpayer Division. These recommendations will help Guyana develop its natural resource wealth in a way that benefits the Guyanese people.
  • U.S. agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, are administering a multi-million dollar regional program of education, prevention, and treatment for those infected and affected by COVID-19 and contributing to the country’s health care capacity. The United States Southern Command has provided $135,000 of personal protective equipment to the various hospitals in Georgetown and Guyana’s interior, and will continue to provide COVID-19 assistance, as needed and requested.

OUR CLOSE RELATIONS BUILD MUTUAL SECURITY

  • Through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, the United States works with Guyana on law enforcement professionalization, enhancing the rule of law, and countering trans-national crime. Our recent assistance has focused on enhanced training for crime scene investigators, forensic video analysis, trial advocacy, and the development of a curriculum for continuing education programs for magistrates, in addition to training prosecutors and magistrates on implementing maritime security law. This has led to an increase in criminal prosecutions and convictions, as well as an increase in the speed of adjudications.
  • The Department of State has helped to train Guyana’s Port Control Unit to deter the trafficking of cocaine and other illicit goods through Guyana.  The United States Coast Guard provides training and mentoring to the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) in order to improve port security. And the United States military provides training of Guyana Defense Forces personnel every year, which includes a current student at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
  • Following the Secretary’s visit, a bilateral Shiprider Agreement will come into force, enabling joint maritime and airspace patrols to interdict narcotics. This joins recent donations of $200,000 in equipment and interceptor boat parts to strengthen Guyana‘s ability to patrol its territorial waters.

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Suriname: Democratic Success, New Opportunities

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

“I believe that the United States and Caribbean nations do much more together, can do much more together, and importantly should do much more together.”

–U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, January 22, 2020

Secretary Pompeo will travel to Paramaribo, Suriname, on September 17.  He will meet with Surinamese President Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi and key members of his cabinet to discuss opportunities to broaden and deepen ties between the United States and Suriname.

A PARTNERSHIP BASED ON SHARED VALUES AND STRATEGIC INTERESTS

  • The U.S. has had diplomatic relations with Suriname from its independence in 1975.  The bilateral relationship is based on shared democratic values, joint economic interests, and strong people-to-people connections.
  • In May, the people of Suriname voted in free and fair elections, repudiating corruption and signaling they wanted to chart a new path based on transparency, rule of law, and democracy.
  • The United States supports Suriname’s new direction. We are working hard to identify ways to increase trade and investment, deepen our security relationship, and support Suriname’s economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAFEGUARDING THE ECONOMY WHILE PROTECTING RESOURCES

  • The United States stands ready to assist Suriname and its engagement with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions as it revitalizes its economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and public debt incurred by previous governments.
  • Recent finds of offshore oil promise future income, but Suriname’s leaders and civil society need to establish sustainable models for extracting natural resources transparently and safely, with the proceeds benefiting the Surinamese people. U.S. investment in Suriname’s gold sector, a chief source of income for the country, offers a model.
  • The United States is Suriname’s biggest import partner, with more than 25% of Suriname’s imports coming from America’s businesses.  In 2018, imports from the U.S. totaled around $388 million, and included poultry, food products, chemicals, petroleum products, electronics supplies, excavating machinery, materials handling equipment, and industrial machines.
  • In 2018, Suriname exported around $86 million worth of goods to the United States, mainly fish and shrimp products. Together we are working to strengthen Suriname’s ability to fight corruption to ensure all investors and businesses can compete on an even playing field.

U.S. ASSISTANCE TO FIGHT DRUG TRAFFICKING, COMBAT COVID-19

  • Suriname participates in a number of programs funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) in an effort to end the ability of illicit traffickers to use the country as a waypoint for drugs and other contraband.
  • Each year, Mission Paramaribo sends 35 Surinamese officials to training sessions at the International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador.  Since 2017, more than 100 police officers have attended these U.S. funded training sessions.  The Department of State purchased equipment to give Suriname the capability to screen travelers on private and commercial flights in the region improving our region’s security.
  • The Department of State has supported training for Suriname’s Port Control Unit, which seized more than 3000 kg of cocaine in 2019, including a 2,300 kg seizure, one of the largest in the country’s history.
  • The U.S. government also committed more than $600,000 towards an anti-money laundering risk assessment, which identifies vulnerabilities in the nation’s anti-money laundering regime and is an essential part of the effort to assist Suriname in meeting regional and international standards.
  • Most recently, the United States, through USAID, provided $2.2 million in regional support to Caribbean nations to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The funding has advanced infection control efforts in Suriname by multilateral organizations, including UNICEF.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicius

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met today with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in Washington, DC.  Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Linkevicius opened the meeting by signing a Memorandum of Understanding on 5G security, after which they discussed next steps in addressing national security vulnerabilities in communications networks.  The Secretary expressed appreciation for Lithuania’s leadership in ensuring the independence and territorial integrity of Belarus and the democratic rights of its people.  Secretary Pompeo thanked Lithuania for its commitment to NATO, including spending 2 percent of GDP on defense and contributing to international security efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Strait of Hormuz.  The Secretary again thanked Lithuania for its ban of Hizballah as a terrorist organization.

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State Department Hosts Business Roundtable on Women’s Economic Empowerment with the Republic of Korea

17 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs hosted a virtual discussion on September 14, 2020, entitled United States and Republic of Korea: Women’s Economic Empowerment Business Roundtable.  Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh opened the meeting, and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, led by Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie, provided an overview of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.

Attended by U.S. and Korean business representatives and government officials, the roundtable highlighted private sector approaches to support women’s economic empowerment in the workplace and in the larger business ecosystem.  Both sides offered recommendations on how to improve women’s participation in the economy and strategized next steps.  The discussion showcased the strong partnership between the United States and Republic of Korea and our continued commitment on this topic.

The roundtable was implemented as part of the Bureau’s women’s economic empowerment initiative, POWER (Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise).  The POWER initiative supports the goals of W-GDP, the first whole-of-U.S. government approach to supporting global women’s economic empowerment.  Through POWER, the State Department regularly engages the private sector to build networks to support women’s economic participation in the United States and worldwide and to reduce barriers to those activities.  POWER promotes efforts to support women as entrepreneurs and business leaders, particularly in high-tech sectors.

For more information about the W-GDP, please visit wgdp.gov.  To learn more about the POWER initiative, please visit:  https://www.state.gov/womens-economic-empowerment/.  For updates from the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, follow @EconAtState on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Briefing With Senior State Department Official On the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, and Texas

16 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

Via Teleconference

MODERATOR: Hey, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for this on-background briefing on the Secretary’s upcoming travel to Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, and ending in Texas.

For your awareness but not for reporting, joining us on the call to brief is . He’ll be referred to as a senior State Department official. He’ll begin with a short introductory statement and then we’ll have time for your questions. As a reminder, the contents of this call are embargoed until its completion, and for the sake of efficiency, if you’d like to ask a question, I encourage you to go ahead and get in the queue by dialing 1 and then 0.

So with that, I will go ahead and turn it over to .

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. Thanks very much, , and good afternoon, everybody. It’s a pleasure to be with you all today. I’ll preview the Secretary’s travel to the region September 17-20 and then take some questions.

This administration has prioritized our relations with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Secretary’s frequent travels to meet with his counterparts in the region are testament to that. During this visit, the Secretary will reinforce our hemispheric partnership to defend democracy, combat the COVID-19 pandemic, revitalize our economy in the pandemic’s wake – economies in the pandemic’s wake, and strengthen security against regional threats, especially the threat emanating from Maduro’s Venezuela.

The Secretary will begin his trip on September 17, tomorrow, meeting in Paramaribo with Surinamese President Santokhi and Foreign Minister Ramdin. The Secretary will congratulate them on Suriname’s recent elections and peaceful transition of power. Suriname has large offshore oil reserves. The Secretary will meet with local representatives of U.S. mining and oil companies that are part of this sector’s critical investment in Suriname’s prosperity and future growth. The Secretary will highlight through these meetings how U.S. companies throughout the hemisphere invest responsibly and transparently. This draws a stark contrast with China, whose predatory loans and vanity projects saddle countries in the Western Hemisphere (inaudible) with unsustainable debts and threats to national security and sovereignty. Suriname, like the rest of the region, faces security threats from transnational criminal organizations, and we will talk about ongoing cooperation in that area. According to the State Department’s Office of the Historian, this is the first visit of a secretary of state to Suriname since its independence. This highlights this new day in our relations with the Western Hemisphere.

Also on September 17, the Secretary will visit Georgetown to meet with Guyanese President Ali – President Ali, who was inaugurated in August after the results of the March 2020 elections were finally announced. Like his history-making visit to Suriname, this is the first visit of a secretary of state to Guyana since its independence. It underscores the important moment Guyana is traversing. The country’s newly elected leaders can build an all-inclusive – can build an inclusive democracy that consolidates rule of law, attracts transparent private-sector investment, and exploits natural resources for the benefit of all of its citizens.

On September 18 in Georgetown, the Secretary will meet with Foreign Minister Hugh Todd and with CARICOM Secretary-General LaRocque to discuss U.S.-Caribbean issues. He will thank CARICOM for its essential role in supporting Guyana’s democratic process as its electoral count dispute played out. The United States and Guyana will exchange diplomatic notes for joint maritime patrols to interdict narcotics. This step will help provide security for Guyanese and American people. The Secretary will also sign a Growth in the Americas memorandum of understanding. This will permit Guyana to improve its investment enabling environment so that the country can benefit from transparent infrastructure investment that respects Guyana’s sovereignty. The Secretary will also discuss with Guyana’s leaders the impact on their country of the crisis in Venezuela, which is the hemisphere’s largest refugee and humanitarian crisis.

Later on, on September 18, the Secretary will move to Boa Vista, Brazil. There he will meet with representatives of Brazilian implementers that receive significant U.S. funding to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants in their time of need. He will also discuss U.S.-Brazil cooperation to address the threat from COVID-19, including the $13.8 million our government has committed in pandemic aid and the recently completed USAID donation of 1,000 ventilators. While in Boa Vista, the Secretary will also meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Araujo. They will discuss U.S.-Brazilian cooperation in tackling shared threats to regional security, including the humanitarian disaster that the illegitimate Maduro regime has imposed on the region, and that regime’s illegal trafficking of arms, gold, and drugs.

On September 19, the Secretary will be in Bogota. He will meet with Colombian President Duque to discuss our strong and ongoing partnership, based on free and fair trade, rural development, defense of democracy, and human rights in this hemisphere of freedom. They will also address our joint efforts to confront the threats posed by narcotrafficking and terror groups, some of which enjoy safe haven and support in neighboring Venezuela under Maduro’s regime.

Finally, on September 20, the Secretary will visit Plano, Texas where he will participate in a religious ceremony led by Pastor Jack Graham and deliver remarks to the congregation.

I’m happy to take your questions now and to go into further detail about his visit to Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and Colombia. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Great. Now we’ll take your questions. If you would, please to try to keep it focused on the trip. And for our first question, let’s go to – let’s go to Shaun Tandon, AFP.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the reasons for the visit now to Suriname and Guyana. If I’m not mistaken it’s the first visit to either country by a U.S. secretary of state. With the new leaderships in the two countries, is there any particular opportunities that you see that weren’t there before? And specifically, in the oil reserves, what if any is going to be the message in terms of how to move forward and to avoid corruption and other pitfalls of oil wells? Thanks.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, good question. The latter part is actually quite key, is that that’s – these countries, Guyana in particular, has the opportunity to go from one of the poorest countries in the region to having the greatest increase in income in the region in a very, very short period of time. And I think leaders in both countries are aware of the pitfalls of what they call the “natural resources curse.” We have through time developed lots of programs and good advice and best practice models and so on that will be shared with these countries under various programs that different U.S. departments will be running. So that’s clearly a shared interest in being sure that the oil development pans out to fortify the democratic, open, transparent nature of these countries and not to exacerbate problems of corruption and so on.

Yes, I think the fact of new leadership in both countries makes this more doable, not necessarily because of the personalities but because of a process here that we had before – in Guyana, a government that was – had overstayed its constitutional term and was – its status was sort of up in the air. Now you have a government that clearly is the choice of the Guyanese people. Also in Suriname you’ve had a government that – there, it was perhaps more associated with personality, but where the leadership had some serious defects that limited the ability to maintain good relations with a lot of the other countries in the region. That’s now been changed out and we’re very hopeful that we’ll see regular, peaceful rotations of power in both countries without the kind of problems we’ve had in the past.

And I’d say also, another reason for this – I mean, we’re supposed to celebrate the return of democracy in both those countries. But you also note these countries are all very close to Venezuela and have been affected in one way or another or in a number of ways by the insecurity and instability there. So that’s another – another purpose of the trip is simply to talk to the neighbors and see what’s affecting them and what can be done to try to ameliorate that.

MODERATOR: Great. Next question, let’s go to the line of Jacqueline Charles.

QUESTION: I have two questions, one on Guyana and the other one on Haiti since we’re talking about democracy. On Guyana, what posture is the administration looking for from this new government in regard to Venezuela, considering that they are currently in a border dispute and the previous government basically tried to play it both ways?

And on Haiti, the prime minister today said that they will soon announce a new electoral commission, but the Catholic Church, Protestants, universities, human rights, private sector associations, all credible groups that have been part of the commission since ’86, have categorically said they will not send anyone to sit on a new CEP. What do you consider to be a credible CEP, how can it be formed, and how do you see elections taking place in this current environment where we’ve got police officers blowing up government cars and daily protests?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay, good. On Guyana, yes, there is a border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela. It’s been going on for a long time. I think our position on that is very clear, and remains unchanged, which is that any – there was an arbitral award way back when. The matter has been submitted to ICJ review. Any disputes over the border should be resolved peacefully, as the two sides seem to be doing. So we don’t see any change on that front.

In terms of the problems that are created for Guyana by having refugee flows and also, I mean, it’s not just that Venezuela produces refugees; they are producing security problems for all these countries by harboring terrorists, harboring narcotraffickers. When we’re trying to interdict drugs – and we’ve put a lot more assets into that and working closely with all the Caribbean partners – where are those coming from? A good deal of the activity seems to be centered in Venezuela now.

So basically we’re looking to Guyana to remain – it’s in Guyana’s own interest, whether it was the previous government or this one, to try to work together to try to resolve the crisis in Venezuela.

On Haiti: Look, the issue we have there is very similar to what we had in Guyana for the last year or so, which is you can’t, in Guyana, say you have a democratic government if the government overstays its constitutional mandate and is ruling by decree, in effect. And that’s what’s happened in Haiti, perhaps through no fault of President Moise, but the legislature there never passed a electoral law during the entire time it was in. So he has the opportunity to do that by his rule by decree, and we believe he should. You can’t maintain a democracy for very long with one of the main branches of government being absent.

So we think all Haitians have a responsibility to deal with this. President Moise has the capacity to appoint a new provisional electoral council. There is a provision for that in the constitution. He is supposed to get recommendations from the different civil society groups. And frankly, I have to say I’m a little bit tired of every group, every opposition party in Haiti saying, “Well, I won’t appoint my person,” or “We won’t have an election,” or “We won’t run in this until you meet all of my political demands.” That’s not democracy. And so we are quite insistent on this, and it’s going to start to have consequences for those who stand in the way of it.

What we’re saying to the Haitian players is: Do your respective jobs. The president’s got a job to do, the legislators had a job to do and didn’t do it, but civil society has jobs to do too. And you can’t say doing my job is contingent on me extorting from you everything I want. That’s simply not a democratic way to go forward.

So we – for us, the Haitian constitution spells out what a provisional election council should look like. The president has some responsibility to appoint it with the – with input from those other groups. And obviously, the kinds of people you’d like to see appointed are people who have a reputation for integrity, honesty, competence, and who can do a good job of organizing elections. They’re not supposed to produce the outcome of the election, they’re supposed to produce a good electoral process. That’s all we ask in any of these countries, and that’s what we ask in Haiti. And I think we just saw that by asking – collectively asking for that and reinforcing those in their own countries who are asking for that, we saw very good outcomes in both Suriname and Guyana because they each ended up having credible processes and they have ended up resolving a whole series of issues that have built up because of a failure to do that.

So Haiti – Haiti really needs to step up to the plate and we’re very looking much forward to them doing it. But they need to do their job.

MODERATOR: Great. Next let’s go to Jennifer Hansler.

QUESTION: Why is it necessary or appropriate for him to stop at a religious service during an official trip? Thank you.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, this would be on his way back to the United States. We did not include that as part of the foreign trip. But since we have to go back through Texas, the Secretary is taking the opportunity to tend to business there as well on the weekend.

MODERATOR: Okay. Next let’s go to Anatoly Kurmanaev with The New York Times.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) will be looking for in these countries to help them confront what you called a regional threat from the Maduro regime? Any aid or economic incentives you can offer them to allow them to do that?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I missed the last couple of words there.

QUESTION: Yeah, if you can offer these countries any or economic incentives to help them confront threats from Venezuela? That’s it.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. Well, I think I mentioned in Guyana, for example, we’re going to do an MOU on joint maritime patrols, which are getting at interdiction of drugs and drug traffickers that are causing security problems for them. The Venezuela connection that I was mentioning is that those – those problems of drug shipments in the Caribbean have been much exacerbated because of the rampant criminality within Venezuela.

The other security problem in the sense of just overwhelming your systems is the – is the flow of people from Venezuela, and I think we saw and you may have heard from another senior official who – otherwise known as Elliott Abrams that I think also is not named – that the UN fact-finding mission came out with their conclusions today that were quite striking. I mean, it’s not – this is not just allegations by the U.S. or the Venezuelan opposition. They’ve documented with thousands of witnesses systematic killing and torture of not only people in the political opposition, but also people in the Venezuelan security forces by the regime, and they named Maduro and his minister of defense and interior as specifically responsible for that.

So when you have a regime that is doing that kind of damage to its own citizenry and then they accuse them of crimes against humanity, of course people are going to try to get out of harm’s way, and that has real consequences. We, as we will be demonstrating through the trip to Brazil, the U.S. has provided substantial aid. I don’t have the total dollar figure here now but we can get it, but it’s in the hundreds of millions I think at this point for governments throughout the region to try to deal with this.

But we also want to talk about what can we all do collectively to reinvigorate the effort to bring that crisis to a satisfactory close where you don’t just have that gaping sore generating more and more either physical security problems, like narcotraffickers and terrorists, or the soft security problem of just having hundreds of thousands or, in the case of Colombia, a million-plus people coming in and becoming dependent on your social services and so on.

We – another purpose there is simply is to thank the governments concerned. They’ve been – and the people of those countries. They have been extremely generous and welcoming to the Venezuelan refugees, and it’s a real testament to their humanity. But that’s not something you should just count on endlessly. We need to all work together to find a way to bring this to a close.

MODERATOR: Great. Next question, let’s go to Patricia Garip.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for this opportunity. Very quickly I have two questions: The Secretary of State’s visit coincides with Guyana’s evaluation of ExxonMobil’s development plan for an oil project offshore. Are you concerned at all about leaving the impression that the U.S. is applying pressure on Guyana to approve the project? They are literally days away from making a determination on that.

And on Venezuela, can you comment on those cargos of condensate and reportedly gasoline coming in from Iran? Is the U.S. in a position to stop that or take any further action (inaudible) cargos? I know it’s been done on the previous ones, but specifically on these cargos. Thank you.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, thank you. First on Exxon, no. I mean, this is certainly not an effort to put any pressure on Guyana. I think it’s more a celebration of their great success in this. Obviously we think American companies are really competitive – as I mentioned, the way our companies behave and they’re subject to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and so on. You look at that and then look at what China does. So those kinds of comparisons are made, but they don’t – it’s not so much that we have to make them. It’s they’re demonstrated out there in behavior.

What we are trying to do is help Guyana and Suriname develop the kinds of welcoming environments for honest foreign investment that both want and need to further their prosperity and development. And so I think this is a case where everybody is in agreement as to what they want and it’s a question of what do we do to get us from here to there. The Exxon evaluation will be done on its own merits by the Guyanese experts.

On the shipments to Venezuela, I mean, each one depends on – as we saw in the past, it depends on who, how, where, what, and why the shipment is being made. If we had some particular thing we were going to do about it, I wouldn’t be at liberty to talk to you about it. The one thing I would observe that just – because this happens within my area of responsibility – is every time I see the Venezuelans desperate for gasoline or desperate for diesel, desperate for food, desperate for medicine and trying to find ways to bring it in, we also see at the same time tankers carrying gasoline to Cuba, diesel to Cuba, meat to Cuba, medicine to Cuba from Venezuela. So it is really something that even as they face these shortages and they’re resorting to all these really sketchy measures in order to get resources in, the top priority is not the Venezuelan people. It seems to be the Cuban regime. And that’s a piece that I would just urge that everybody keep in mind in the puzzle.

MODERATOR: Great. For our next question let’s go to the line of Tracy Wilkinson.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks. On the issue of Chinese investments and behavior, which you’ve mentioned a couple of times here, until recently, Colombia was probably the United States’s strongest ally in terms of standing up to the Chinese, and that’s not the case anymore. The Chinese are building the Bogota subway and they’re building – what do you call it – 5G telecom. What – how do you explain that turnabout by Colombia? How alarming is – is it alarming to you in terms of scale and scope, and what can or will you do to try to dissuade them from – the Colombians from cooperating so extensively with the Chinese? Thanks.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, look, we have been I think pretty clear that we – we’re not running around saying don’t deal with China. We’re saying – I mean, we deal with China and other countries deal with China. They’re a big economy. There’s really no choice but to deal with them. But what we are saying is when you deal with them, make them deal on transparent, 21st century, above-board terms, not on the sort of 19th century imperialist, mercantilist, opaque terms that Chinese Communist Party and Chinese businesses owned by the – owned or controlled by the Communist Party seem to favor.

So you can end up in circumstances where – if China competes on a level playing field with other enterprises and manages to win on the merits, well, so be it. We also urge countries, though, look at your security interests. Be sure that when you’re buying something you’re not inadvertently selling all your or giving away all your precious data to the Chinese Communist Party.

But that’s something we have talked with Colombia about. I would note that in the case of the Bogota subway, because of the way that played out, the only bidder on the Bogota subway turned out to be a Chinese firm, so it wasn’t so much that they went with China but that the way the thing was done it did not attract other investors. And so I think they do have work to do in that area and we are talking to them about it.

But it’s – I wanted to be clear that our message is not don’t deal with China; it’s deal with China – make China deal with you on your terms, on transparent, open, above-board, labor-rights-respecting, environmental-standards-respecting terms. So that’s what you want to have come out the other end of this. So that’s what we’re talking to Colombia about. I’m sure we will continue to talk about it. But it’s not contentious; it’s – again, it’s how do you put in place the right incentives to attract good investors who are going to be responsible corporate citizens and help further your national interest.

MODERATOR: Okay, next question – this may have to be our last – is Enrico Woolford.

QUESTION: My question is the – I have two questions really. Is there any meeting planned for the oil companies in the private sector and the opposition in Guyana? And is there any resurrection in the proposal to use Guyana’s medium wave radio services to transmit into Venezuela from Guyana as the U.S. has proposed?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay, on the first, not that – I am not aware of – I mean, the now opposition previous government in Guyana certainly has plenty of contacts of their own with the oil companies. We’re not trying to broker contacts between the oil companies in either them or the government. We’re going to meet with the oil companies, see how they’re doing, see what their plans are. We’re meeting with the government separately. And I assume the politicians from both sides will have their own contacts with investors in their country, in Guyana and anywhere else for that matter.

On the medium wave radio, no, I don’t know of any or we don’t have any particular focus on that on this trip. Obviously, we’re always looking for transmitter sites that are efficient and so on to carry U.S. and other sponsored services, but that’s not on the agenda for the trip so far. I can’t tell you nothing will come up in the course of a conversation, but that’s not one of the purposes of the trip from our standpoint.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you, , for taking the time today.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, thank you and thank each of you. Appreciate the effort to do this. It’s always a little disconcerting because I don’t get to see you, but love to do it. And I – actually, I just got a – I had mentioned earlier I would get the number on the aid for Venezuelan refugees. As of today, it’s just slightly under $1 billion. So that shows you some of the – what we’ve tried to do with other governments to help them deal with that problem.

With that said, again thank you and have a good rest of the day. And hopefully we will produce some good news out of this trip that you’ll be able to cover. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. And thanks to those who joined the call. As this is the end of the call, the embargo is lifted. Thanks and have a great afternoon. Bye.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Al Nahyan

16 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan today in Washington, D.C. The Secretary commended the Foreign Minister for the monumental accomplishment of the Abraham Accords and thanked him for his participation in the White House signing ceremony. They discussed regional and bilateral issues of concern, including the need to overcome divisions between Gulf countries and work to continue countering Iran’s malign influence in the region.

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