EU and China discuss trade and economic relations

28 Jul
The European Union and China held today their 8th High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue (HED). The HED focused on the joint response to coronavirus and global economic governance issues, bilateral trade and investment concerns, and cooperation in the area of financial services and taxation.

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Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Brian Hook Traveled to Tunisia, Qatar, and Kuwait to Discuss Extending the UN Arms Embargo on Iran

27 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

On July 24-26, Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Brian Hook traveled to Tunisia, Qatar, and Kuwait to discuss extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, which is scheduled to expire on October 18, 2020.   In Tunisia, Special Representative Hook met with Foreign Minister Noureddine Erray.  He discussed the range of threats Iran poses to international peace and security and requested Tunisia’s support as a non-permanent member of the Security Council to extend the arms embargo.  In Qatar and Kuwait, Special Representative Hook discussed the need to extend the arms embargo to preclude a regional arms race and halt Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.  He also emphasized the benefits of regional cooperation and reiterated the need for members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to take steps to rebuild trust and restore unity.  In Doha, he met with Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani. In Kuwait City, he met with His Highness Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Ahmad Nasser al-Mohammad Al Sabah.

Special Representative Hook will travel to Estonia and the United Kingdom on July 28-29 for consultations with our European allies.

 

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Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Costa Rican Foreign Minister Solano

27 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Costa Rican Foreign Minister Rodolfo Solano Quiros. Secretary Pompeo commended Foreign Minister Solano on our continued security cooperation and track record of success in counter-narcotics efforts, as well as for Costa Rica’s economic reforms over the last 18 months, which were linked to the rigorous OECD process. The Secretary expressed U.S. support for Costa Rica’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Solano also spoke about the upcoming election for president of the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as the People’s Republic of China’s empty promises to Central America.

 

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Celebrating the 231st Anniversary of the U.S. Department of State

27 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, the U.S. Department of State celebrates its 231st anniversary as the nation’s first executive agency. This milestone is an opportunity to reflect on the essential role of U.S. diplomacy in advancing the interests, security, and economic prosperity of the American people. I commend the State Department team for their extraordinary work to promote and demonstrate our democratic values and advance the cause of a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.

Since our last anniversary celebration a year ago, we’ve continued our pressure on the Iranian regime to end their support of terrorism and other destabilizing activities, promoted peace in Afghanistan where parties are on the verge of inter-Afghan negotiations to end forty years of conflict, and revealed the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party to our allies and partners around the world. We also welcomed North Macedonia as the 30th NATO member and released our plan to implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security because empowering women to lead is the right thing to do, and it will make the world safer.

In 2020, in response to unprecedented challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, our team of great Americans and locally employed staff have added to the Department’s storied legacy by repatriating more than 100,000 U.S. citizens on 1,140 flights from 136 countries and territories. In partnership with USAID, the team has worked to provide more than $1.5 billion in U.S. support to bolster the ability of our global partners to fight the virus. In addition, the State Department worked hard for the lifting of foreign country export restrictions so that medicine, equipment, and supplies can flow through private sector supply chains into the United States from overseas. This remarkable contribution deserves the thanks of our nation.

I am deeply proud of the Department’s champions of diplomacy who exemplify our Professional Ethos daily as they advance U.S. foreign policy as One Team, with One Mission, and One Future.

 

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Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Georgian Prime Minister Gakharia

27 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Secretary Pompeo and Prime Minister Gakharia discussed the importance of the U.S. Georgia partnership and our close coordination in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary Pompeo also highlighted the importance of holding free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections this October, noting that a level playing field is integral to democratic elections. He commended the passage of constitutional amendments establishing a partially proportional electoral system and stressed the importance of rigorous implementation of recently passed electoral reforms. The Secretary urged continued efforts to strengthen the independence of Georgia’s judiciary as an essential step for attracting foreign investment and cautioned against politicization of Georgia’s judicial and electoral processes.

Secretary Pompeo reiterated unwavering U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and agreed with Prime Minister Gakharia that Russia must halt its destabilizing actions and fulfill its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreement.

 

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Trump And Republicans Found Enough Money To Help Trump Hotel But Not Unemployed Americans

27 Jul

Trump and Senate Republicans want to cut unemployment benefits and say they don’t have enough money for rent or food assistance. Yet they managed to find enough for the FBI HQ that has nothing to do with the pandemic, but benefits Trump’s hotel, and held up negotiations over it.

Trump pressured Senate Republicans into including nearly $2 billion in the coronavirus relief bill for construction of a new FBI headquarters across from his DC hotel—which held up negotiations on badly needed relief.

Washington Post: “Under intense White House pressure, Senate Republicans agreed Monday to allocate $1.75 billion in their coronavirus relief bill towards the construction of a new D.C. headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Washington Post: “Complicating efforts for a compromise are potential conflicts of interest stemming from Trump’s continued ownership of a hotel a block down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Even Senate Republicans couldn’t explain why Trump insisted the FBI funding be included or what it had to do with the pandemic.

MCCONNELL: “‘You’ll have to ask them why they insisted that be included,’ he told reporters, referring to the White House.”

SHELBY: “Asked Monday what a new FBI building had to do with the novel coronavirus, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a key negotiator of the stimulus package, paused and said, ‘Good question.’ Shelby, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that for some items the bill had to ‘stretch the link’ to the pandemic.”

Spending on the new FBI headquarters and requiring it remain at its current location could help benefit Trump’s hotel.

New York Times’s Jim Tankersley: “This spending could help the president’s business, by preventing the construction of a rival hotel if the FBI moves its HQ.”

Washington Post’s Dan Eggen: “Before Trump was elected, officials at his company feared a competing hotel if the FBI moved its headquarters. Now Trump is trying to get money in the coronavirus relief bill to keep the FBI building where it is – and keep away any competitors.”

Trump and Republicans want to cut unemployment benefits and came up with a more complicated program that could take months to implement.

CNBC: “GOP relief plan slashes unemployment benefits by 43% for average worker”

Washington Post: “In the new GOP plan, Senate Republicans propose cutting weekly emergency unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 until states can bring a more complicated program online.”

Bloomberg: “The proposal favored by Republicans for extending supplemental unemployment benefits aiding millions of Americans made unemployed by Covid-19 could take some states the rest of the year to implement.”

Trump and Senate Republicans also left out additional funding for essential items like rental and food assistance in their stimulus plan.

CBPP: “The Senate Republican plan is similarly inadequate in addressing rising hardship among those struggling to put food on the table. It doesn’t raise SNAP benefit levels even though 26 million adults reported that their households, which include millions of children, often or sometimes didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days, according to Census data from early July.”

CBPP: “The plan also falls far short in addressing the looming crisis of evictions and homelessness, providing little to help people now facing severe housing instability. It contains no funding for homelessness services or additional rental vouchers, and it fails to extend the federal eviction moratorium that expired Friday.”

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Perez, Rep. Porter, Mayor Bottoms, Hatcher: Trump Is Gambling With Children’s Health and Safety

27 Jul

Today, DNC Chair Tom Perez, Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Little Lobbyists’ Laura LeBrun Hatcher discussed how Trump is gambling with childrens’ health and safety by ignoring the advice of scientists and experts, downplaying the risk of children spreading coronavirus, and threatening to withhold funding that schools need to safely reopen.

The press call followed the release of the DNC War Room’s latest television ad, “This Is Not a Test,” which calls out Trump for trying to force schools to fully reopen before they’re able to do so safely, despite coronavirus cases surging across the country, because he thinks it will help with his reelection.

“From day one, Trump has made this crisis, far, far worse than it ever had to be. Now, Trump is demanding that schools reopen, and claiming that the virus will not be spread by children in classrooms, or at home. With a history of lies and an ignoring of science and his chronic incompetence about this coronavirus, Americans have absolutely no reason to trust him on this issue, or any issue for that matter, and for good reason,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “It’s no wonder the vast majority of Americans oppose Trump’s demand that schools reopen unsafely. Health experts, teachers,  superintendents, pediatricians, and parents have spoken out forcefully against this push that would imperil children, school staff and their families.”

“As a single working mom, I know from personal experience how important schools and childcare options are for working parents to participate fully in our economy. But, as any working parent will tell you, the linchpin in all that is that we have confidence that our kids are being kept safe. Parents cannot work, and cannot help our economy recover if they are fearing for their children,” said Congresswoman Katie Porter. “With cases still skyrocketing in many states, no framework for school districts, no commitment of federal funding, and no coordinated national testing strategy, having kids and teachers safe in school is far from reality. And, here’s the stone cold truth: we could have prevented this.”

“As a mother of four children, I do not trust this president with their lives. And this is where we are, as we contemplate what will happen with our children headed back into school this fall,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “My family is a prime example of what can happen when you send children back into unsafe classrooms. My husband and I and one of our children have been infected with COVID-19. My child was asymptomatic. As we contemplate sending our children back into school, this is what our teachers, our custodians, our bus drivers, and so many others in schools will face: children who are asymptomatic who may unintentionally infect those who don’t have the ability to ward off this virus.”

“We would have hoped that the avoidable loss of one child’s life, regardless of pre-existing health conditions, would be too many for our president, but we were wrong,” said mother, disability rights advocate, and Little Lobbyists Director of Communications Laura LeBrun Hatcher. “And so, right now, families like mine are terrified and furious. We’re terrified because we’re in the middle of a rapidly spreading pandemic, and we’re being told by our nation’s leadership that we simply must learn to live with it, to get back to work, send our children back to school, and hope that everything will be fine. But we know that if we do, the loss of life could be unimaginable. On our current course, we’re forced to wonder how many empty chairs we will have around our table this holiday season.”

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NEW POLL: Trump’s Coronavirus Response Hits New Low

27 Jul

A new poll shows that approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus hit a new low and more Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction than at any point of his presidency. It’s clear why. Every step of the way, Trump’s failed response has gone in opposition to what Americans knew was the safe and smart thing to do.

Americans disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response and the vast majority say our country is heading in the wrong direction. It’s clear why.

Associated Press: “A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds Trump’s approval for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic falling to a new low, with just 32% of Americans supportive of his approach.”

Kaiser Family Foundation: “Four months out from 2020 election, voters give President Trump negative ratings on his overall job approval as well as his handling of key issues that will likely decide the election President Trump also now garners his lowest net approval on the handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. since KFF began polling on the topic. One-third (35%) of voters approve of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. while six in ten (61%) voters disapprove (net approval of -26 percentage points).”

Associated Press: “8 in 10 Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction. That’s more than at any point since Trump took office.”

Trump is pushing to unsafely reopen schools. Very few Americans support fully reopening without restrictions.

Associated Press: “Only about 1 in 10 Americans think daycare centers, preschools or K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions.”

Trump refused to wear a mask and downplayed the effectiveness for months. Americans support mask requirements.

Associated Press: “Three out of four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor requiring people to wear face coverings while outside their homes.”

Americans were concerned Trump would move too quickly to reopen the country. They were right. Now they think their jobs aren’t coming back.

Pew Research: “With the Trump administration and many state governors actively considering ways to revive the stalled U.S. economy, the public strikes a decidedly cautious note on easing strict limits on public activity. About twice as many Americans say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly (66%) as say it will not happen quickly enough (32%).”

Associated Press: “In April, 78% of those in households with a job loss thought they’d be temporary. Now, 47% think that lost job is definitely or probably not coming back.”

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DNC launches digital homepage takeover highlighting Trump’s failed COVID-19 response in The Triangle Tribune, a Black Newspaper

27 Jul

Ahead of President Trump’s trip to The Triangle today, the Democratic National Committee reserved a homepage takeover of The Triangle Tribune, a Black newspaper, highlighting Trump’s failed coronavirus response. The Triangle Tribune reaches voters in Morrisville, where Trump is set to visit today.

Additionally, today at noon, the North Carolina Democratic Party hosted a press call featuring congressional candidate Deborah Ross, NCDP Chair Wayne Goodwin and State Senator Jay Chaudhuri to discuss how Trump’s failed, ineffective coronavirus response has hurt North Carolinans and resulted in almost 109,000 cases and nearly 1,800 deaths statewide. The speakers also highlighted how teachers and parents are plagued by uncertainty around sending students back to school, and the Trump administration is making it worse by threatening to cut funding for public schools that don’t reopen.

“At every turn, Donald Trump’s incompetence has made this crisis worse — especially for communities of color —  and North Carolinians have paid the price,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “As cases continue spiking across the state, North Carolinians are worried about how they’re going to keep food on the table and whether they can send their children back to school safely. And instead of rolling up his sleeves and doing the work, Trump would rather pick fights on Twitter and pose for photo ops. Enough is enough. We need a president who can pick up the pieces and put our nation back together. We need Joe Biden.”

The homepage takeover utilizes all of the advertising space on The Triangle Tribune’s homepage — including multiple banner ads — and will run for 24 hours. Images of the ads are below:

 

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