Deputy Special Representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Pak Meeting with Republic of Korea (ROK) Officials to Address the DPRK Cyber Threat

10 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

Today, Deputy Special Representative for the DPRK Dr. Jung Pak hosted ROK Director General for North Korean Nuclear Affairs Lee Taewoo and a delegation of technical and policy experts to discuss the increasing DPRK cyber threat.  The meeting addressed the dangers posed by the DPRK cyber program and focused on strategies to combat Pyongyang’s ongoing attempts to generate revenue for its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs through malicious cyber activity.

The meeting further highlighted U.S. commitment to working closely with like-minded countries to focus attention on and counter disruptive, destructive, or otherwise destabilizing behaviors in cyberspace. Deputy Special Representative Pak reiterated the U.S. commitment to continue close cooperation with the Yoon administration on addressing the cyber threat posed by the DPRK.

$89 Million in New U.S. Humanitarian Demining Assistance for Ukraine

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

On August 9 the Department announced its intention to provide $89 million of FY 2022 funding to help the Government of Ukraine address the urgent humanitarian challenges posed by explosive remnants of war created by Russia’s brutal war of aggression.

Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine has littered massive swaths of the country with landmines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices.  The grotesque use of improvised explosive devices in the manner that we are seeing in Ukraine by Russian actors was previously only associated with ISIS in Syria.  These explosive hazards block access to fertile farmland, delay reconstruction efforts, prevent displaced communities from returning to their homes, and continue to kill and maim innocent Ukrainian civilians.  The Government of Ukraine estimates that 160,000 square kilometers of its land may be contaminated – this is roughly the size of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut combined.

U.S. funding will deploy approximately 100 demining teams and will support a large-scale train and equip project to strengthen the Government of Ukraine’s demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) capacity.

Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $4.2 billion for the safe clearance of landmines and explosive weapons of war (ERW) as well as the securing and safe disposal of excess small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and munitions in more than 100 countries and territories.  The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction.

For more information, please consult the PM website, or contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, at pm-cpa@state.gov, and follow us on Twitter @StateDeptPM.

U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Stern’s Travel to Nepal and India

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

U.S. Special Envoy Jessica Stern will travel to Nepal August 10-14 and India August 23-27. During her visits, Special Envoy Stern will meet with government officials and other stakeholders to discuss advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons in each country and regionally.

For media inquiries, please contact DRL-Press@state.gov.

U.S. Delegation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The Biden-Harris administration is deeply committed to addressing the challenges of systemic racism both at home and abroad, including the structures, policies, laws, and practices that sustain racial injustices.  The administration further believes that any pledge to advance human rights around the world must begin with a pledge to advance human rights at home.

In that context, the United States has assembled a diverse interagency delegation to the upcoming meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland (August 11-12).

The delegation will be led by Ambassador Michèle Taylor, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, and Desirée Cormier Smith, the State Department’s Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice.  It will also feature representatives from nearly a dozen executive branch agencies including the Departments of Justice, Labor, and Education, as well as Mayor of Atlanta Andre Dickens and representatives from the office of California’s Attorney General.

While in Geneva, the delegation will present the 2021 report on the implementation of U.S. obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  The report outlines actions taken by the U.S. Government to promote racial equity and address systemic racism and discrimination.

In preparation for the presentation, the United States hosted a series of consultations with American civil society on a wide range of issues of concern to marginalized racial and ethnic communities.  U.S. participation in this process reflects the administration’s abiding commitment to human rights treaty obligations, and its firm belief that the United States must lead by example.

A fact sheet on the Periodic Report of the United States of America to The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is available online.

If you have any questions about the U.S. CERD presentation or need more information, please contact USCERD2022@state.gov.

CDP Senior Bureau Official Jennifer Bachus’s Travel to the Bay Area

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

Jennifer Bachus, Senior Bureau Official for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, will travel to the San Francisco Bay Area August 9-12 to strengthen partnerships between the State Department and the digital technology and technology policy sectors.  While in California, SBO Bachus will meet with leaders from the private sector, researchers, and policy advocates focused on promoting cybersecurity, connectivity, and human rights in a digital age.  She will discuss the mission of the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy and gather perspectives on how the bureau can best deliver on that mission.

Secretary Blinken established the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy in April 2022 as a key piece of his modernization agenda to ensure that the State Department is ready to meet the tests of the 21st century.  For more information, visit the bureau’s website or contact CDP-Press@state.gov.

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) Secretary and Chief Executive Chris Seed

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met today with MFAT Secretary and Chief Executive Chris Seed in Wellington, New Zealand, to express her thanks for New Zealand’s role in ensuring a strong Pacific Islands Forum and to discuss our shared commitment to deepening cooperation with Pacific Islands states. The Deputy Secretary and Secretary and Chief Executive discussed the People’s Republic of China’s recent actions and the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. They also discussed our shared commitment to continuing to support Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, as well as efforts to address the global food security crisis resulting from Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ardern

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met today with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington, New Zealand.  The Deputy Secretary and the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of coordinating U.S.-New Zealand efforts in the Pacific, including fostering economic prosperity and advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  They discussed recent actions by the People’s Republic of China and the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. They also reiterated their commitment to continue their coordinated response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  Deputy Secretary Sherman and Prime Minister Ardern also discussed recent engagements with Pacific Island leaders and the United States.

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Pacific Islands Diplomatic Representatives

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman participated in a talanoa roundtable discussion today with representatives from Pacific Island countries in Wellington, New Zealand.  The Deputy Secretary emphasized the United States’ deep commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to the Pacific Islands. She underscored the United States’ interest in hearing from and engaging with Pacific Island partners on their priorities, including combating climate change, countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, and supporting inclusive economic development. The Deputy Secretary expressed the United States’ continued commitment to consulting and working with our Pacific Island partners, including through the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) initiative.

The United States-Democratic Republic of the Congo Relationship

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he will meet with government leaders and representatives of civil society to discuss the extensive partnership on issues including regional security, respect for human rights, environmental conservation, climate change, and bilateral trade and investment.

  • S. relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are deep and longstanding. The United States immediately established diplomatic relations with the DRC in 1960, following its independence from Belgium.
  • In April 2019 following President Tshisekedi’s visit to Washington, the United States and the DRC launched the “Privileged Partnership for Peace and Prosperity,” a joint commitment reflecting the closer U.S.-DRC relationship and a public pledge to work together on areas of mutual interest, including strengthening democratic institutions, improving respect for human rights, ending impunity, promoting peace in eastern DRC, and attracting U.S. trade and investment. In February 2021, given the shared U.S. and DRC focus on climate change, a fifth “P” – Preservation of the Environment – was added.
  • Under President Tshisekedi, the United States has a steadfast partner to advance our mutual global priorities, including combating the climate crisis, countering illicit trafficking, responding to multiple security and humanitarian crises, promoting respect for democracy and human rights, securing supply chains of critical minerals necessary for the global transition to cleaner forms of energy, and mitigating transnational organized crime.
  • We welcome the Congolese government’s renewed pledges to deliver on long-promised reforms and root out pervasive corruption, which is an underlying driver of instability.
  • The U.S. and DRC held the first ever bilateral human rights dialogue in June 2021 to discuss challenges related to freedom of expression, trafficking in persons, and allegations of security force abuses. In recognition of the country’s positive steps to improve democratic practices and good governance, the DRC joined the Summit for Democracy in December 2021. We support the Congolese government’s efforts to consolidate those gains to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law.
  • We appreciate the Congolese government’s co-sponsorship of a resolution on minerals and metals management at the February 2022 UN Environment Assembly and look forward to working with the DRC on its implementation.
  • The United States supports the government of the DRC’s decision to review mining contracts and greater accountability in the sector. We encourage the DRC to continue its collaboration and work on fiscal transparency, labor rights, and adherence to environmental, social, and governance standards for the mining sector.  The United States is providing more than $30 million in assistance to help the DRC promote responsible and sustainable mining practices.
  • We salute President Tshisekedi’s commitment to protect the Congo Basin Forest and ensure the DRC is a “solution country” to the climate crisis. We welcome the DRC’sleadership to organize the Pre-COP27 in Kinshasa.  We appreciate our cooperation to protect our shared home.
  • We appreciate President Tshisekedi’s regional leadership. As President of the African Union last year, and through leadership in other regional organizations, he has demonstrated visionary leadership for the continent.
  • The United States and the DRC enjoy a robust, longstanding, and trusting relationship on global health, most notably combating Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks, which established a strong foundation for the COVID-19 pandemic response. With U.S. government support through USAID and CDC, the DRC has contained six EVD outbreaks in the past four years, declaring the most recent outbreak over this past July.  These U.S. contributions to the EVD response were a natural expansion of our longstanding support for Congolese health systems.
  • The United States has provided more than $1.7 billion in health assistance to the DRC over the past 20 years. The DRC is also a U.S. global health security intensive support partner country, which serves as a platform for cooperating on zoonotic disease, workforce development, lab systems, and more.
  • The United States supports the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), which plays a critical role in the protection of civilians, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support to the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.
  • The United States is providing $23.75 million in support of the DRC’s election, including to strengthen transparency and electoral administration, improve civic and voter education, empower the population (including women and youth) to meaningfully participate in elections, and help marginalized communities to understand and access political processes. In July, USAID and State announced $2 million and $1 million respectively to fund international and domestic observation of the elections.  This commitment demonstrates our desire to see free and fair elections in 2023 with electoral processes that are transparent and inclusive.  In August, USAID provided an additional $10 million to promote peaceful political participation and transparency in the 2023 elections.  This new funding will expand current programming into more difficult-to-reach areas where the risk of alienating or disenfranchising the population and causing or exacerbating violent conflict is highest during the 2023 election cycle.
  • DRC is one of the eight new target countries where Feed the Future will help develop the DRC’s own food and agricultural systems.
  • Working with Congress, the United States plans to invest $37 million in development assistance, in the DRC to expand access to fertilizer and promote more efficient use of it given increased costs, expand access to social safety nets and strengthen nutrition programming, especially for children under five.
  • The State Department has committed an additional $6 million to assist the DRC in improving its criminal justice system, addressing corruption, and fighting trafficking of mineral resources and wildlife.
  • On July 13-14 in Kinshasa, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, a State Department partner, hosted a symposium attended by the Minister of Interior highlighting the success of a program funded by the United States in close partnership with Congolese stakeholders to support vital early warning systems for vulnerable communities in five Eastern provinces, an initiative made more vital as MONUSCO continues to draw down.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with South African President Ramaphosa

9 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today in Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to strengthen the enduring ties between our countries and advance shared global priorities through the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. The Secretary noted that South Africa — as a leading global voice, a strong constitutional democracy, a G-20 member, and a scientific, cultural, and tech leader — is essential to global progress on COVID-19, climate, global health, democracy, and regional security. The Secretary thanked President Ramaphosa for hosting him and his delegation in South Africa and emphasized that the United States is committed to continuing this robust, dynamic, and mutually beneficial partnership.