The United States Designates Two ISIS Facilitators

28 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, the United States continued its efforts to disrupt the financial and logistical support networks that sustain ISIS operations in the Middle East and around the world by designating two ISIS facilitators.  As co-lead of the Counter ISIS Finance Group, a working group of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the United States has worked closely with our partners to restrict ISIS’s ability to generate and transfer funds and other material to conduct its operations.

Faruq Hamud operated the Tawasul hawala in Syria that served ISIS members and transferred payments for ISIS from outside Syria.  The United States designated Hamud pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIS.  Adnan Muhammad Amin al-Rawi has served as an ISIS facilitator in Turkey.  The United States designated al-Rawi pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for acting for or on behalf of ISIS.  Multiple members of the al-Rawi family have been designated under E.O. 13224 since 2016 related to facilitating ISIS financial operations.

We have made considerable progress degrading ISIS’s support networks in the Middle East, but there is still much work to do.  We look forward to discussing these and other actions with our partners in the Counter ISIS Finance Group as we continue the work of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo At a Press Availability with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds

28 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

Dean Acheson Auditorium, Department of State

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good afternoon, everyone.

We have had a lively and productive set of conversations this morning and last night as well.  I’ll get to that in just a bit.

First, though, I want to personally thank Ministers Payne and Reynolds for traveling all this way, halfway around the world, to be with us today.  That is a tough trip in ordinary times.

And your entire delegation will be quarantining when you get back.  Not many partners will do that for us, and so thank you to each of you and your teams for being with us here in person.  It was very important that we all be together to have this important conversation.

Before she left Australia, Minister Payne called this year’s AUSMIN meetings, quote, the “most significant,” end of quote, in her time “for Australia’s short, medium, and long-term interests.” The same could be said for our side as well.

Our two great democracies face immediate crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term challenges like the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions.  We need to deal with each of these challenges simultaneously.

We are lucky to count Australia as a close partner throughout all of this.  When I was in Sydney last August, I recall naming our relationship as the “Unbreakable Alliance.”  It’s even more true today.

We started this morning by talking at length about the Chinese Communist Party’s malign activity in the Indo-Pacific region, and indeed all around the world.

The United States commends the Morrison government for standing up for democratic values and the rule of law, despite intense, continued, coercive pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to bow to Beijing’s wishes.

It is unacceptable for Beijing to use exports or student fees as a cudgel against Australia.  We stand with our Australian friends.

We also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic.  The United States commends Australia for publicly condemning China’s disinformation campaign and insisting on an independent review into this virus’s origin.

I also want to applaud your efforts to include Taiwan in the World Health Assembly, so that the world might benefit from that vigorous democracy’s wisdom in dealing with the outbreak.

We look forward to working together on our nations’ ongoing economic recovery from this entirely preventable pandemic. Today we reaffirmed our collective commitment to strengthening supply chains, so that they are resilient against future pandemics, CCP retaliation, and the use of forced labor.

Turning to Hong Kong, our nations have both denounced the CCP’s violation of its own treaty promises and the crushing of the Hong Kong’s people’s freedoms.

The U.S. applauds Australia’s decisive response to suspend its extradition agreement and extend visas for residents of Hong Kong in Australia.

We also addressed the CCP’s attempts to dominate the technology space.  We, in fact, spent a great deal of time on this issue.  Australia was ahead of us in awakening to the threat of untrusted vendors like Huawei and ZTE.  We look forward to nations becoming “Clean Countries” together.

And finally, we’ll keep working with our Australian partners to reassert the rule of law in the South China Sea, which the United States and Australia have both underscored in recent, important statements.  I’ll let Secretary Esper address more about our military cooperation both there and elsewhere.

Ministers, as I said just last week at the Nixon Library, the burden Australia has undertaken to uphold democratic values is not yours to bear alone.

The United States knows the threats that you and the rest of the free world face.  And the United States stands with you in our unbreakable alliance.

Thank you, again, for being here today.

Minister Payne.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thank you very much, Mike.  And to our secretary colleagues, Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper, it is a great pleasure to be here today.  Both Minister Linda Reynolds and I are very pleased that AUSMIN was able to take place in person today.  We know that we’re living a very constrained set of circumstances, so we particularly appreciate the effort made by the United States to host us here by the teams who have put together an AUSMIN in these constrained circumstances.

And I want to thank all of those involved.  I want to thank Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos and his team, acknowledge Ambassador A.B. Culvahouse, who’s also made the trip from Canberra, and our Secretaries Frances Adamson and Greg Moriarty, and the Chief of the Australian Defense Force General Angus Campbell.

This year marks 80 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and the United States.  This is the 30th AUSMIN talks and indeed as Mike referred to it is my fifth in two incarnations at least.  It’s hard to believe that it’s a year since we were in Sydney, because so much has happened in the last 12 months.  And I want to particularly convey my condolences, my sympathies to those amongst the American people who have lost loved ones, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  These are difficult times for all of us.

As both Secretary Pompeo and I have said at various times, Australia and the United States’ strong and enduring relationship is built on our shared values.  It’s built on our resolute belief in the rule of law, a respect for human rights, our promotion of gender equality, our protection of freedoms of religion and belief.  It’s built on the fact that we are both strong, liberal democracies that cherish freedom of expression and diversity of opinion.  And it’s built on our confidence in making decisions in our interests.

At AUSMIN today we discussed and reached agreement on a wide range of issues.  We agreed it’s essential that the alliance remains well-positioned to respond to both the immediate impacts of COVID-19 as well as the longer-term economic and security challenges that have emerged, not just in the past six months but in recent years.

Australia and the United States are deeply committed to strengthening health security efforts in the Indo-Pacific to help states combat COVID-19 and to prevent the emergence of future pandemics.

So I’m pleased that as part of our talks today we have agreed to expand cooperation under our Health Security Partnership to explore opportunities to prevent and respond – to detect and respond to infectious disease threats, including ensuring access to vital vaccines.

COVID-19 has, without doubt, exacerbated the security challenges in our region.  Some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy.  The role of multilateral institutions is more important now than ever in supporting our values and our strategic objectives as the world responds to the health and economic challenges of COVID-19.

We’re therefore pleased also to be able to announce a new working group between Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the United States Department of State to monitor and respond to harmful disinformation.

The rules-based global order is a constant, notwithstanding or perhaps even more so given the impact of the pandemic.  We reiterated our commitment to holding states to account when they breach international norms and laws, as we have done and will continue to do so in relation to China’s erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.

We also recognize the importance of international leadership and cooperation, which for both of us involves helping other countries through the COVID-19 crisis.  We will step up and ensure that we support our mates further afield.

That means working together to strengthen the capacity of states in our region to recover economically from COVID-19, including by supporting infrastructure development.  Our work together, for example, along with the Government of Palau and other partners, including Japan on the Palau marine cable to provide fast and affordable internet to our Pacific neighbor is a really good example of this, and I’m glad we’ve been able to progress our discussions on these today.

We will use the Australian-U.S. alliance as the basis to deepen our friendship with others.  We already do.  We’ll work more closely with existing partnerships such as the Five Eyes, the ASEAN, the Quad, the Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership, the East Asia Summit.  And as we have through COVID-19, we will build new groupings, cementing friendships, improving our security through a network of nations that share our vision of an open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific.

I am very proud to be here this week.  I’m very proud that the enduring Australia-U.S. alliance will be at the very heart of this vision.  Mike, thank you and Mark again for your hospitality.

SECRETARY ESPER:  Well, thank you Minister Payne and Minister Reynolds, Maurice, Linda, for coming all this way to be here in person, particularly in the time of COVID.  Your presence reflects the strength of the U.S.-Australian alliance and signifies our ever-increasing convergence on the most important strategic issues of our time.

The United States and Australia share a deep and enduring bond, united by common values and forged through decades of shared sacrifice, having fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict since World War I.  Today our alliance remains strong and resilient and is vital to stability, to security, and prosperity around the globe and in the United States’ priority theater, the Indo-Pacific.  Together we share a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific where all nations, big and small, can enjoy the benefits of sovereignty; where free, fair, and reciprocal trade are the norm; where states adhere to international rules and norms; and where international disputes are resolved peacefully.

Today we discussed a range of issues regarding the future of the region, including the impact of the global pandemic as well as the security situation in the South China Sea specifically and the Indo-Pacific more generally.  We appreciate Australia’s significant contributions to COVID-19 response efforts, and we spoke in detail about the Chinese Communist Party’s destabilizing activities and the fact that Beijing is increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives at the expense of other nations.

The United States seeks a constructive, results-oriented relationship with the PRC, but we will stand firm in upholding the international rules-based order.  And we applaud Australia for pushing back against the CCP’s brazen economic threats and coercive behavior and increasing risk of retaliation.

We also discussed the PRC’s less conspicuous means of extending its influence through state-sponsored tech dominance.  And we commend Australia for its decision to reject Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network, thus protecting the integrity of our intelligence cooperation and the many other aspects of our defense relationship.

In this regard, I want to thank Australia for its continued support of the Marine Rotational Force at Darwin.  Our significant presence there enables excellent combined training between the U.S. and Australian troops, and this year’s rotation is an important example of how we can meet our strategic interests as an alliance while adapting to health concerns posed by the coronavirus.  We owe it to our partners to make sure that we deploy responsible – responsibly, as I assured Minister Reynolds of our preventative measures.

Additionally, last week, five Australian warships joined the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and a Japanese destroyer in conducting a trilateral naval exercise in the Philippine Sea ahead of the upcoming RIMPAC exercise in Hawaii.  These exercises not only bolster interoperability, but also send a clear signal to Beijing that we will fly, we will sail, and we will operate wherever international law allows and defend the rights of our allies and partners to do the same.

Amid these challenging and uncertain times, the U.S.-Australia alliance remains a powerful force for stability and prosperity in our region and the world, and we thank you once again, Minister Payne and Minister Reynolds, for your participation here today.  Thank you.

DEFENSE MINISTER REYNOLDS:  Well, thank you very much, Secretary Esper, to Mark, and to both of you, Mike.  Thank you very much for your hospitality and also for the very productive discussions that we’ve had today.  I’m delighted that we’re able to come here in person, because there really is no substitute for face-to-face meetings that we’ve had here today.

Since its beginning, AUSMIN has steered our alliance through a rapidly changing world, from the Cold War to confronting extremism and most recently focusing the alliance activities in the Indo-Pacific.  But today, we are both experiencing a profound change in the geopolitical framework that underpins our security but also our prosperity.  So now more than ever, we must put a premium on ensuring the alliance continues to serve both our nations’ interests.

And today we have done just that, focusing to ensure our alliance cooperation is best placed to respond to our shared challenges.  We have a great and ambitious set of defense outcomes, ones that advance our cooperation in support of our shared vision, a vision for a region that is secure, that is open, and is also prosperous.

Secretary Esper and I signed a statement of principles on alliance defense cooperation and on force posture priorities in the Indo-Pacific.  This builds on our successful force posture cooperation over the past 10 years, and it will drive the next decade of our defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.  It will also strengthen our shared ability to contribute to regional security and to deter malign behavior in our region.

We intend to establish a U.S.-funded, commercially operated strategic military fuel reserve in Darwin.  We agreed to further deepen our defense science technology and also our industrial cooperation.  This includes hypersonics, electronic warfare, and space-based capabilities.  This will ensure the alliance maintains its capability edge in a rapidly modernizing environment.  Further reducing barriers to industrial base integration will also strengthen our interoperability and also our shared resilience.

When we released Australia’s defense strategic update earlier this month, my prime minister noted that we now face a world that is poorer, that is more dangerous, and that is more disorderly.  The Australian Government’s $270 billion investment in defense capability over the next decade will build capability, resilience, and further agility for the Australian Defense Forces.  It will also allow Australia to make its strongest contribution to our shared alliance security interests right across the Indo-Pacific.

And today, we reaffirmed the importance of working with partners to strengthen sovereignty and also resilience to coercion.  Our alliance is in great shape, but we cannot ever take it for granted.  And this is why the substantial outcomes and agreements we have reached today are so important for us both.

Thank you.

MR BROWN:  Okay.  For our first question, let’s go to Nick Schifrin from PBS Newshour.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Secretary, Minister Payne, if I could ask you both about China and Mr. Secretary a more local question.

Mr. Secretary, after your alliance of democracies speech, you received some criticism by some people who called it unworkable especially for European allies, as the Trump administration pursues a confrontational trade policy on Europe and doesn’t criticize other autocrats, including Viktor Orban.  How do you work through that?

And Minister Payne, another aspect of that speech was the admonition to help the Chinese people change the Chinese Government.  Do you think that is possible and/or wise?

Mr. Secretary, if I could quickly, more locally —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  You want three questions?

QUESTION:  If —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, good try.

QUESTION:  Just quickly —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Let me just take your first question to me and then Minister Payne can take the second one.  No, it’s completely workable.  As I said in that same set of remarks, this isn’t about picking America versus China.  This is about choosing freedom and democracy against tyranny and authoritarian regime, and I am confident that the democracies, our transatlantic alliance – all of those great nations know precisely which side of that debate they want to be on.  They know where their peoples’ interests lie.  They lie with freedom and democracy and continued economic prosperity for their people.  That doesn’t come from partnering with or working with authoritarian regimes that threaten them, but rather working with countries like Australia and America that value freedom and human rights in the same way that they do.

You made a comment about the fact that we have not been consistent on human rights.  I have a fundamentally different view of that.  We have been intensely focused on making sure that we stand for the very value set that the United States and Australia alongside of us care so deeply about.  I gave a set of remarks in Philadelphia now a couple weeks back that talked about this and put it in sharp focus and talked about the unalienable rights that matter so much to the world, and we’ll defend them everywhere.  And I’m confident that our partners all across Europe and, frankly, democratic friends all across the world, whether that’s in India or Japan or South Korea – our Australian partners are here today – understand that the challenge of our times is to make sure that those nations that do value freedom and do want economic prosperity based on the rule of law will join together to deliver that for our people.

Last thing:  You asked a second question to her.  I’m going to take a swing because you mischaracterized again what I said.  Go back and look what I said.  We need to make sure we’re talking to everyone all across the world.  The Chinese, when they come here, they talk to Democrats, right – they go to Capitol Hill and lobby Democrats on Capitol Hill.  American diplomats ought to have that same opportunity so that we can speak to all people that are part of the People’s Republic of China.  It seems only appropriate that we do that.  It seems quite necessary.  Indeed, I would think that the government in Beijing would want that.  We encourage there to be freedom of speech, openness, the capacity to work with elements inside the United States that don’t always agree with the administration.  That’s how democracies – that’s how economic growth takes place.  Those kinds of things are the right thing to do, and we’re aiming through our diplomatic efforts to make sure that there’s every opportunity for people all across the world to speak to all of the various views that are contained inside of the People’s Republic of China.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thanks very much, Mike, and rather than I think make individual comments on the Secretary’s speech – Secretary’s speeches are his own; Australia’s positions are our own.  And we operate, as you would expect, on the basis of our shared values, actually, which are reflected in both the approach of the United States and the approach of Australia.  But most importantly from our perspective, we make our own decisions, our own judgments in the Australian national interest and about upholding our security, our prosperity, and our values.  So we deal with China in the same way.  We have a strong economic engagement, other engagement, and it works in the interests of both countries.

That said, of course, we don’t agree on everything.  We are very different countries.  We are very different systems, and it’s the points on which we disagree that we should be able to articulate in a mature and sensible way and advance, as I said, our interests and our values.  As my prime minister put it recently, the relationship that we have with China is important, and we have no intention of injuring it, but nor do we intend to do things that are contrary to our interests, and that is the premise from which we begin.

MR BROWN:  Next, can we go to Sarah Blake from Newscorp?

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I have a question for both Secretary Pompeo and for Minister Payne.  Secretary Pompeo, there are currently dozens of Australian citizens in Syria who are the wives and children of captured Islamic State fighters.  Do you think that Australia should bring these people home?  And if so, why, and if so, why not?  You know what I mean.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  If you have a question for Minister Payne, you can go ahead and put that —

QUESTION:  Minister Payne, did the question of the ISIS wives and children arise in your talks with Secretary Pompeo, and will Australia bring these people home?  And if so, why or why not?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Maybe I’ll let you go first since this is the same question and they’re Australian people about which we speak.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Well, we’ve broadly discussed a number of issues relating to counterterrorism more broadly.  And in relation to Syria, it’s important to note that Australia has repatriated some orphans from Syria.  But these are pretty complex challenges, and I don’t think that should be underestimated.

The priority of the Australian Government is the protection of Australia and the Australian community.  We’re a good international citizen.  We don’t shy away from our responsibilities, and those also of course include our responsibilities to citizens at home, to our diplomats and officials who would be required to travel into what are very dangerous situations.  And as the government has repeatedly said – the prime minister, the minister for home affairs, and I have repeatedly said – we will not put Australian lives at risk to try and to extract people.

It’s important to note I think that COVID-19 has further complicated this picture extensively.  We have seen closed borders, significant travel restrictions, significant international travel bans put in place, including of course in Australia itself.  Movement in Syria and in the region is now more complex than ever.  And at home, we see our states and territories very stretched, as an understatement in some cases, because of the impact of COVID-19 infections.

So any assessment of the sorts of resources that would be needed to reintegrate, to monitor, to secure, to deradicalize people who are brought home are under significantly more pressure than they usually would be.  And we will not put our communities at home at risk, nor our officials abroad, to extract people from Syria under current conditions.  We will always take a case-by-case approach to returns of individuals, but at this point in time it’s an extremely complex situation, and that remains the government’s position.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  And we’ve made very clear our expectation is that the places that these fighters are being detained may not be sustainable and that we need to work with each host country to bring those people back and bring them to justice back in their home.  We think that’s important.  We’ve been consistent with that all across all the nations that have fighters that are there inside of Syria.

MR BROWN:  Third question.  We’ll go to Katie Bo Williams from Defense One.

QUESTION:  Thank you all for doing this.  First to Secretary Esper:  Did the U.S. and Australia discuss deploying either additional U.S. troops or intermediate-range missiles on Australian soil?  And can you give us any details on the outcome of those conversations?  And secondly, can you tell us what are your concerns about military-style uniforms being worn by federal officers conducting civilian law enforcement in Portland?

And then to Minister Reynolds:  During your meetings this week, did the U.S. side press you to conduct freedom of navigation operations closer to the disputed island chains in the South China Sea than Australia has previously been willing?  And do you plan on honoring that request, and if so, what has changed Australia’s calculation?

SECRETARY ESPER:  So I’ll go first, and I’ll take your first question since it involves our Australian partners who have traveled 22 hours to be here today and face a 14-day quarantine on the back end.  Let me just say we had a very wide-ranging discussion about the capabilities that the United States possesses and the capabilities that Australia possesses, and our desire to advance them, whether they are hypersonics or any other type of capability.  And I think it’s important as we think forward about how do we deter bad behavior in the Indo-Pacific and how we defend the international rules-based order – in this case specifically with regard to China.

I would like also to take this moment to commend Australia.  They recently announced a bold new defense strategy that is far-reaching, and I think really puts them at the forefront as a really extremely capable partner to the United States and a very capable partner in terms of defending that international rules-based order.  And that will involve the full suite of capabilities and strategies we intend to roll out together in the years ahead.

DEFENSE MINISTER REYNOLDS:  Well, thank you very much, Mark.  And Katie, in relation to transiting through the region, and also freedom of navigation and overflight, as you would expect it was a subject of discussion.  For those of you who know, Australia has a long history of transiting through the region – unilaterally, bilaterally – with regional friends, and also multilaterally.  For example, the ADF Joint Task Group recently transited through the South China Sea on its way to RIMPAC, and as the Secretary observed, we did a trilateral transit through the Philippine Sea.  Our approach remains consistent, and we will continue to transit through the region in accordance with international law.

MR BROWN:  Okay. Last question to Amelia Adams with Nine Network.

QUESTION:  Secretary Pompeo, if I could start with you, there’s a lot of concern in Australia about the growing rift between your administration and China.  As you know, Australia is very dependent on China.  Should Australians be concerned about the long-term consequences of the breakdown in relations between your two countries for our regional security?

And perhaps, Minister Payne, if you could talk to the same question after the Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  This isn’t about a breakdown in relations between the United States and China.  This is about unlawful misconduct by the Chinese Communist Party, coercive behavior, that frankly most Western nations have permitted to go on for far too long.  President Trump made very clear as far back as his campaign that we were no longer going to permit that to happen.  We were going to rebalance the relationship with the objective of getting a much more fair, reciprocal relationship between the United States and China.

We’ve done it on multiple fronts.  We’ve seen it very publicly on trade.  We’ve seen it – the things we’ve done to make sure that we have a safe and secure infrastructure.  The Australians have been fantastic at making sure that Australians’ information, their private information, didn’t end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

So every nation and its people needs to be aware of the threat that is posed by the Chinese Communist Party to them, and I am confident that the Australian Government, just like the American Government, will act in ways that preserve their sovereignty and secure freedoms for their own people.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Amelia, I think in part I answered the question in response to the question from our first representative this afternoon, but from Australia’s perspective, let me reiterate that we make our own decisions.  We do that based on our values – many of which are shared values, overwhelmingly – but most importantly, in Australia’s national interest.

We do often hold common positions with the United States because we do share so many of those fundamental values, and we both want the same kind of region:  We want it to be secure, we want it to be stable, we want it to be free, we want it to be prosperous.  And what this meeting is all about, what AUSMIN is all about – and has been, in fact, for its 30 iterations – is the alignment of the broad perspectives of Australia and the United States on global and regional issues.  That includes our discussions in relation to China.  It includes our discussions in relation to COVID-19 response and recovery.

We have, I think, a demonstrable track record of making decisions based on our own interests.  The number of those have been mentioned today in terms of protecting Australia and Australians in the interests of national security, whether they are around countering foreign interference, whether they are ensuring that our 5G network is protected from high-risk vendors, whether they are about the sorts of initiatives that we’ve taken more recently around our foreign investment rules.

We don’t agree on everything, though, and that’s part of a respectful relationship.  It’s part of a relationship that has endured over a hundred years of mateship, to re-coin that phrase, and will endure, I am absolutely confident, based on our fundamental shared values, for centuries into the future.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Great.  Thanks, everyone.

 

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2020 U.S.-Australia Ministerial Consultations on Health Security Cooperation

28 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The Governments of the United States of America and Australia discussed health security cooperation at the 2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) on July 28, 2020.

International collaboration is critical to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the collective threat of infectious diseases and pandemics.  COVID-19 is the latest example of the threat to human health posed by emerging infectious diseases. The Department’s partnership with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade remains vital to responding to the current crisis and preventing future infectious disease outbreaks, as well as addressing their devastating health, economic, and social costs.

The United States and Australia remain deeply committed to transparency, accountability and collaboration as we work together to strengthen and accelerate capacity building for health security in the Indo-Pacific. We are dedicated to the One Health approach that fosters cooperation between environmental conservation and human, animal, and plant health.

On the occasion of AUSMIN 2020, and in support of the goals of the United States Global Health Security Strategy and Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, our two governments reaffirm our strong partnership and welcome strengthened cooperation in 2020 and beyond.  More information on a joint plan of activities is available here: https://www.state.gov/ausmin-2020-health-security-statement/

 

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AUSMIN 2020 Health Security Statement

28 Jul

The text of the following statement is released by the Governments of the United States of America and Australia regarding progress towards health security cooperation to be discussed at the 2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to be held on 28 July.

Begin Text:

At no other time in recent history has collaboration been more critical to prevent, prepare and respond to the collective threat posed by infectious diseases and pandemics. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governments of the United States and Australia are taking joint action to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, including those of zoonotic (animal) origin particularly the Indo-Pacific region. COVID-19 is just one example of the rising trend of diseases caused by viruses that have jumped from animal hosts into the human population The bilateral partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) remains vital to preventing the risks of future infectious diseases outbreaks and pandemics and their devastating health, economic and social costs.

Recognising that much pivotal work remains to be done to strengthen and accelerate capacity building for health security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States and Australia remain deeply committed to transparency, accountability and collaboration in this area. This includes commitment to a One Health approach that fosters cooperation between environmental conservation and human health, animal health and plant health.

On the occasion of AUSMIN 2020, and in support of the goals of the United States Global Health Security Strategy and Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, our two governments reaffirm our strong partnership, and welcome strengthened cooperation throughout 2021 and beyond, by way of a joint plan of activities including:

  • Virtually co-convening a second Southeast Asia Health Security Donor Coordination Meeting in 2020;
  • Exploring opportunities to collaboratively build Indo-Pacific partner capacity in biosecurity, biosafety, and bio-surveillance to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks caused by especially dangerous pathogens, through laboratory placements for participants from the Greater Mekong Subregion in Australian research institutions, as well as joint biosafety training;
  • Working together in third party countries to improve hygiene conditions, stop the selling of high risk wildlife in ‘wet markets’, and immediately encourage the enforcement of laws addressing the sale of illegal wildlife in all markets. This includes support to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to develop a targeted risk assessment and mitigation plan for identified wet markets in Indonesia to reduce risks of zoonotic disease spillover events;
  • Exploring collaboration between the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security (CHS)’s implementing partners and the upcoming USAID Strategies to Prevent (STOP) Spillover program as well as an upcoming USAID private sector engagement program to identify and help partner governments mitigate zoonotic disease spillover risks with pandemic potential in the region, including through support for market solutions in the prevention of zoonosis and antimicrobial resistance along the livestock value chain;
  • Extending collaborative support for a three-year program to strengthen community pandemic preparedness in Indonesia through the Red Cross in Indonesia, which builds on the U.S.-supported Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program (CP3);
  • Extending the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program to the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in Papua New Guinea;
  • Supporting the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap and exploring ways to strengthen the secretariat role of the Task Force for Global Health, further building on a CHS-supported high-level workshop in Geneva in February 2019 that brought together key players for this task;
  • Strengthening public health emergency operations centers and conducting simulation exercises in selected partner countries including Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar;
  • Working with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to improve access to new and under-used vaccines for the most vulnerable children and cohorts in the world’s poorest countries;
  • The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and US Indo-Pacific Command co-convening a series of webinars for counterpart agencies on Health Security in the Pacific with a focus on Pacific Island countries, and culminating in an in-person Pacific Regional Health Security Workshop in 2021;
  • The ADF and US Indo-Pacific Command co-convening Military Health Security Summit 2021 in Sydney, Australia, building on the outcomes of the successful Australia Defence Forces-USINDOPACOM co-hosted Military Health Security Summit in June 2019.

These activities will continue to expand Indo-Pacific health security engagement and capacity building and build the significant progress achieved under this bilateral multi-sectoral partnership over the last two years. We welcome in particular the focus on the Pacific where, in response to the vulnerabilities of Pacific Island countries, Australia and the United States have successfully collaborated to:

  • Co-procure, along with other partners, nearly 100,000 GeneXpert cartridges and testing machines to enable in-country COVID-19 testing;
  • Coordinate contributions to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assisting on the ground in countries in their COVID-19 response;
  • Coordinate ventilator and oxygen supply donations to match needs;
  • Provide complementary support for the establishment of air transport and logistics services for the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, which will assist the Pacific Islands Forum with the delivery of humanitarian and critical medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, within the region, and;
  • Coordinate support efforts through participation in regular US-Affiliated Pacific Islands teleconferences.

Australia and the United States have demonstrated their commitment to transparency and accountability in global health security over the past twelve months by:

  • Conducting regular interagency health security dialogues to share information, policy perspectives, and best practice from our respective health security investments, with the engagement of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. CDC, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
  • Commencing staff exchanges, with Australia’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security (CHS) hosting a U.S. Government Science Fellow for three months in 2019 from DTRA;
  • Conducting consultations between CHS and U.S. government country teams and other in-country experts to support DFAT’s 2018 Health Security Scoping Missions in the Indo-Pacific;
  • Providing joint leadership within the Steering Group of the multilateral Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA 2024; including through Australia’s Secretariat role and rotating membership of the Steering Group from 1 January 2019 and the U.S. government’s permanent membership), supporting the GHSA 2024 health security capacity improvement target and furthering the objectives of the GHSA Action Packages for Antimicrobial Resistance, Biosecurity and Biosafety, Sustainable Financing for Preparedness, and Workforce Development;
  • Coordinating support for One Health capacity building through multilateral partners to enhance understanding of emerging zoonotic disease and antimicrobial resistance risk, and enable targeted risk-based mitigation along animal value chains and in live animal markets in the Greater Mekong sub-region;
  • Aligning U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Oceania and Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Medical Command Strategies, including executing joint health workforce development activities and collaborating on a regional health security forum at the inaugural Global Health Security Conference in Sydney in June 2019;
  • Co-convening the first-ever Southeast Asia Health Security Donor Coordination Meeting in September 2019, involving the Australian government, the U.K. government, multilateral organisations and six U.S. government agencies;
  • Developing an Indo-Pacific Collaborative Engagement Plan for DTRA’s Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) and CHS, which may extend to other agencies in the future.

The United States and Australia look forward to continuing to work together bilaterally, and regionally including in relevant regional organizations, and in international forums, to promote an Indo-Pacific region that is safe and secure from the threats posed by infectious diseases and to reduce the risks of future pandemics. There has never been a more vital time to strengthen global health security.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Participation in the Australia – U.S. Ministerial Consultations

28 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo hosted Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds today at the Department of State in Washington, D.C for the 30th Australia – United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN).  The Secretaries and Ministers exchanged views on wide-ranging topics, building on Australian Prime Minister Morrison’s historic official visit to Washington in September 2019.  Even during these unprecedented times, the Secretaries and Ministers reaffirmed our unbreakable shared commitment to freedom and democracy.

 

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Peru’s Independence Day

28 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

On behalf of the United States and the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Peru as you celebrate your Independence Day.

Our strong partnership is rooted in a long history of shared values of democracy, economic cooperation, and security promotion.  We welcome Peru’s leadership in supporting a peaceful return to democracy in Venezuela and your offering of a safe haven to the Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru.  We also thank Peru for its vital cooperation in responding to the shared challenge of COVID-19 and for helping to repatriate thousands of U.S. citizens.  The United States and Peru will continue to work together to further our mutual goals of promoting economic prosperity, combating illicit transnational crime, defending human rights, and advancing security cooperation.

The United States wishes the people of Peru a happy Independence Day.

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WATCH: DNC RELEASES NEW TV AD IN WI: ‘This Is Not a Test’

28 Jul

The DNC War Room released a new television ad in Wisconsin today, “This Is Not a Test,” to call out Donald Trump for gambling with children’s health and safety. Trump is 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.

The ad will run in the Milwaukee media market starting on Tuesday, targeted on cable networks to reach parents with school age children and teachers as part of a six figure buy.

WATCH HERE:

Experts, scientists, teachers, and parents know that Trump can’t be trusted to decide when schools should reopen. It’s Trump’s fault that the outbreak got this bad in the first place. Trump should focus on getting the virus under control, and stop trying to force schools to reopen before they’re able to do so safely.

“Donald Trump has put Wisconsin families in an impossible position. Parents shouldn’t have to stay up at night worried that the president of the United States is compromising their kids’ safety. Children shouldn’t be exposed to a deadly virus, or risk passing the virus to their parents, grandparents, and loved ones. Trump will do anything to help his reelection chances. He can’t be trusted to make this life-or-death decision for our children. It’s time for a leader who will protect Wisconsin’s kids, and give families and teachers the support they deserve. It’s time for Joe Biden,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez.

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Public Designation of Former Officials of the Illegitimate Maduro Regime Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption

28 Jul

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, I am announcing the designation of former Venezuelan Minister of Electric Power and President of Corpoelec, Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez, and former Venezuelan Deputy Minister of Finance, Investment, and Strategic Alliances for the Ministry of Electric Power and Director of Procurement of Corpoelec, Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez.  They have been designated for accepting monetary benefits, including bribes and kickbacks, in exchange for awarding lucrative supply equipment contracts for Venezuela’s state-owned electricity company, Corpoelec, and for misappropriating public funds for their own self-enrichment.  In June 2019, the Department of the Treasury, in coordination with the Department of State, sanctioned Lugo and Motta for undermining democracy in Venezuela under EO 13692.

The designations announced today are made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94).  Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments, along with their immediate family members, for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals are indefinitely ineligible for entry into the United States.  In addition to Lugo and Motta, the Department is publicly designating the following family members of Lugo’s immediate family:  Karina Isabel Carpio Bejarano, Luis Alfredo Motto Carpio, and Nakary Marialy Motto Carpio; and the following members of Motta’s immediate family: Yomaira Isabela Lugo de Lugo, Virginia Del Valle Lugo Lugo, Victor Jesus Lugo Lugo, and Jose Lugo Lugo.

This designation reaffirms the U.S. commitment to combating corruption in Venezuela.  The United States continues to stand with Interim President Juan Guaido, the democratically elected National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela in their fight against corruption and for the peaceful restoration of democracy and economic stability.  The Department will continue to use these authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.  For more information, please contact INL-PAPD@state.gov.

 

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In The Battlegrounds: As Biden Unveils Racial Equity Agenda, Democrats Slam Trump’s Failures For Communities Of Color

28 Jul

Today, as Joe Biden unveiled his plan to advance racial equity as part of the United States’ economic recovery, Democrats across the battleground states slammed Donald Trump’s broken promises and disastrous record with communities of color. See for yourself:

In Arizona:

Arizona State Representative Dr. Gerae Peten, Founder and Executive Committee Member of the West Valley NAACP: “In 2016, Donald Trump asked voters of color what we had to lose under a Trump presidency. After four years, we’ve learned the answer the hard way … Trump’s disastrous record has been deeply felt across Black, Latinx, Native, and AAPI communities, from skyrocketing unemployment and cratering small business ownership to rising housing costs and higher coronavirus death rates. Today, Arizona’s communities of color are paying the price for Trump’s incompetent and ineffective pandemic response with our lives and livelihoods. It’s disgraceful.” 

In Georgia:

Democratic Party of Georgia Chair and state Senator Nikema Williams:

“At every level, Donald Trump’s failed leadership has made life harder for Black Americans and people of color. While Trump used his economic policies to enrich big banks and corporate cronies, Black and brown Georgians were left out, and our racial wealth gap has grown. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic devastates vulnerable communities across our state, his response has made this crisis only worse. To close the racial wealth gap, we need a real leader who will fight for every family’s future like it is their own — that’s Joe Biden.”

In Maine:

Maine Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Marra: “During his presidency, Donald Trump hasn’t just failed to address racial disparities, he’s actively made them worse with economic policies tilted in favor of corporations and wealthy investors … Tragically, Trump has failed to respond as the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color both in health and economic outcomes. Joe Biden is making racial equity a centerpiece of his economic recovery plan, and our choice this November couldn’t be clearer.”

In Nevada:

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson: “Time and again, Donald Trump has failed the Black community, especially now. As coronavirus cases surge and the economy craters, Trump has stuck his head in the sand while Black Americans are being disproportionately harmed. Trump’s failed pandemic response has inflamed longstanding economic and health disparities while fueling inequality.” 

Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores: “From day one, Donald Trump’s rhetoric has demonized the Latino community, while his anti-immigrant agenda has terrorized our families. Now, as a direct result of his failed pandemic response, Latinos are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus crisis as our communities, businesses, and priorities get left behind. The Latino community deserves a leader who will bind us together instead of driving us apart, and fight to build a better future for the next generation. That leader is Joe Biden.”  

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II: “Trump turned his back on communities of color, especially as we confront the catastrophic fallout of his failed pandemic response. Nevada’s diversity is its great strength, and our Black, Latino, Native American, and AAPI communities deserve far better than Donald Trump’s record of broken promises.” 

In New Hampshire:

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley: “Donald Trump’s chaotic and failed mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented public health and economic disaster that is hurting communities of color the most … For months, Granite Staters were losing their jobs and were getting sick while Trump downplayed the severity of the coronavirus, spread false information about ‘treatments’, refused to take responsibility, and refused to handle this crisis.”

In North Carolina:

North Carolina Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue: “Four years ago, Donald Trump asked African American North Carolinians what we have to lose by voting for him. We knew the answer then and we know it now — we have everything to lose by supporting Donald Trump. Trump has spent his presidency supporting big businesses and wealthy investors over communities of color; undercutting affordable housing opportunities and undermining efforts to reduce racial disparities in education.”

Ohio:

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse: “The coronavirus pandemic and its disproportionate impact on Black Ohioans is Exhibit A for why we have been saying that racism is a public health crisis. Donald Trump has done nothing to address the concerns of Black Ohioans; in fact, his reckless and chaotic response to the coronavirus crisis has led to thousands of needless deaths, particularly in African-American communities.”

Ohio Democratic Party Vice Chair Rhine McLin: “Our country cannot take four more years of Trump, and Black Ohioans definitely cannot take another four years of Trump’s hate-filled Twitter rants and tacit support for white supremacy. We’ve had enough. It’s time to put Joe Biden in the White House.”

In Pennsylvania: 

State Senator Sharif Street: “Four years ago, Donald Trump tried to sell himself to Black Americans by asking us ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ It turns out we’ve lost a whole lot under the Donald Trump presidency … We’ve watched Donald Trump go after our health care, undermine civil rights protections, and in recent months, fail to address the COVID-19 pandemic which is disproportionately killing Black and Brown Americans.”

In Texas: 

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: “Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has waged war on communities of color and rolled back hard-won protections that generations before us fought and died for. So it’s no surprise that as coronavirus cases surge across Texas, Trump is parachuting in for a photo op while Black Americans and Latinos bear the burden of his failed pandemic response. Communities of color in Texas and across the country don’t need any more cheap political stunts, we need leadership in the White House that will fight racial disparities and inequality head on. That’s why we’ll reject Trump’s empty promises and elect Joe Biden in November.”

In Virginia:

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chair Lamont Bagby: “The president’s dog whistles to racists, proliferation of structural inequity, and blatant lies have cost Black and Brown Virginians immensely during his administration. This election is about more than returning to the status quo. It is about fixing harm and making tangible progress. Donald Trump has only divided America further, and fanned the flames of racism. Joe Biden will commit to investing in our communities and make racial justice a key component of his policy agenda.”

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