Secretary-General Appoints Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland Deputy Special Representative for Iraq

15 Jan

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland as his new Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

United States to Host World Data System’s International Program Office

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The Department of State is proud to see that the World Data System (WDS), a non-governmental body for norms and standards for scientific data, has selected the Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee (ORI at UT) to host its International Program Office for a five-year term starting in 2021. The Office will promote U.S. leadership in values-based international norms and standards for data and scientific research over the next five years. With the strong support of the Department of State, this selection is a testament to American scientific leadership and innovation, reflecting U.S. universities’ and laboratories’ long-standing tradition of excellence, freedom, openness, and transparency in science and technology.

The Department of State is committed to the development and promotion of trusted data and internationally recognized norms and standards that form the bedrock of the robust U.S. innovation ecosystem. Values-based norms and standards also serve as the foundation for the Clean Network Initiative, which protects data privacy, intellectual property, security, and human rights. The World Data System’s decision for the International Program Office to be based in the United States signals the importance of trusted data as the foundation for scientific research, emerging technologies, open societies, and innovation.

The Department looks forward to working with the World Data System and ORI at UT once the arrangements for the International Program Office are finalized. This work will advance norms and standards on data, leverage America’s expertise in this field, and ensure the global scientific enterprise can benefit from U.S. leadership.

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State Department Terrorist Designation Reviews and Amendments

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The Department of State has amended the terrorist designations of Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) and ISIL Sinai Peninsula (ISIL-SP) to include additional aliases. These aliases have been added to LJ and ISIL-SP’s designations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224.

Additionally, the Department of State has reviewed and maintained the FTO designations of LJ, ISIL-SP, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru), al-Nusrah Front, Continuity Irish Republican Army, and the National Liberation Army, pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended (8 U.S.C. § 1189).

FTO and SDGT designations seek to deny these terrorist organizations the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences of designations, all of the groups’ property and interests that are within the United States or that come within the United States or that come within the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. In addition, as designated FTOs, it is a federal crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to them.

Today’s actions notify the U.S. public and the international community of additional aliases of LJ and ISIL-SP, and that all of these groups remain terrorist organizations. Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate them and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and governments.

A list of State Department-designated FTOs and SDGTs is available here: https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designations-and-state-sponsors-of-terrorism/.

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State Department Terrorist Designations of HASM and Its Leaders and Maintenance of PIJ FTO Designation

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The Department of State has increased sanctions against Harakat Sawa’d Misr – also known as HASM – by designating the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). HASM was previously designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 in January 2018 for posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism. The Department has also designated Yahya al-Sayyid Ibrahim Musa and Alaa Ali Ali Mohammed al-Samahi as SDGTs under Section 1(a)(ii)(B) of E.O. 13224 for being leaders of HASM. Additionally, the Department has also reviewed the FTO designation of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and maintained it, in accordance with section 219 of the INA.

These designations seek to deny HASM and its leadership the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences of designations, all of HASM’s, Musa’s, and al-Samahi’s property and interests that are within the United States or that come within the United States or that come within the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. In addition, as a designated FTO, it is a federal crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to HASM.

HASM is a terrorist group active in Egypt. Formed in 2015, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Egyptian National Security Agency officer Ibrahim Azzazy, as well as the attempted assassination of Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. HASM also claimed responsibility for a September 30, 2017 attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo. In August 2019, HASM was responsible for a powerful car-bomb that exploded outside of a hospital in Cairo, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens. Musa is a Turkey-based HASM leader. Al-Samahi is as well; he is a senior HASM official with an operational role in the group. He has participated in attacking planning, to include target selection, and manages aspects of the group’s finances and allocation of funds. Some of the leaders of HASM were previously associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

PIJ was founded in 1979-1980 in Egypt by Palestinian students Fathi Shaqaqi, Abd al-Aziz Odah, and Bashir Musa. It emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood movement and was inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran. PIJ is committed to the destruction of Israel and to the creation of an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including present-day Israel. PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilians and military targets.

Today’s designations notify the U.S. public and the international community that HASM and PIJ remain terrorist organizations. Designations of terrorists, both individuals and groups, expose and isolate them and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and governments.

A list of State Department-designated FTOs and SDGTs is available here: https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designations-and-state-sponsor.

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United States and Morocco Sign Cultural Property Agreement

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

Today, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco David T. Fischer and Morocco’s Minister of Culture Othmane El Ferdaous signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding that protects Moroccan cultural property.

This agreement is an example of the United States’ enduring work with Morocco to combat cultural property trafficking and to preserve heritage items by allowing the U.S. to establish import restrictions on certain categories of Morocco’s cultural property.  The agreement also gives U.S. law enforcement the ability to repatriate trafficked cultural objects back to Morocco while fostering the interchange of Moroccan cultural heritage with U.S. institutions.

The United States has been unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to restrict trafficking in cultural property, which is often used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. This cultural property agreement with Morocco was negotiated by the State Department under the U.S. law implementing the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  The United States has cultural property agreements with countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

For further information, please contact eca-press@state.gov.  Follow @ECA_AS on Twitter for updates.

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Launch of United Women’s Economic Development Network

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

Women business leaders and entrepreneurs from the United States, Bahrain, Morocco, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo convened today for the virtual launch of the United Women’s Economic Development Network, hosted by U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie, Special Envoy for Economic Normalization Aryeh Lightstone, and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Women’s Issues Charity Wallace.

Following the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, signatory parties have worked to establish across the region a warm peace, inclusive of all, and to develop new cross-country economic partnerships. In pursuit of those goals, the advancement of women’s economic empowerment has come to occupy a role of central importance.

The United Women’s Economic Development Network will provide a platform for building ties and trust among women in each country, deepening the greater regional cooperation promised by the Abraham Accords and bringing the economic benefits of normalization to businesswomen and leaders in Abraham Accords countries and other likeminded countries. The Network will also advance women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, a major facet of U.S. foreign policy, in line with the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.

Special Envoy for Economic Normalization Aryeh Lightstone welcomed the group of approximately 40 women to the event, noting that in business you look for trends, and trends on women’s economic empowerment are positive. He also noted that the Abraham Accords countries are ascendant and female entrepreneurship in those countries has unlimited potential. Lightstone closed by stating that the women leaders at the event today are building directly on the Abraham Accords and translating it into tangible and sustainable benefits that will reach all sectors of society.

In her remarks, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie applauded Marwa Al Mansouri, an Emirati entrepreneur and board member of the UAE’s Economic Collaboration Committee, and Netta Korin, co-founder of Israel’s largest blockchain infrastructure company Orbs, for founding the network, which will complement U.S. objectives under W-GDP and contribute to lasting peace across the region. The launch of the Network also builds on the announcement last week of the DFC’s W-GDP 2X MENA initiative, launched in Morocco by Ambassador Currie and DFC SVP Wallace.

 

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U.S. Department of State and National Park Service Partner to Strengthen Fulbright Exchanges and Increase Global Environmental Awareness

14 Jan

Office of the Spokesperson

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the National Park Service (NPS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB), are pleased to announce the establishment of the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership.  The Fulbright Program and the National Park Service will combine efforts, resources, and ideas, to increase environmental and cultural awareness worldwide through Fulbright exchanges.  Today’s virtual signing ceremony to establish the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership was the inaugural event of the Fulbright Program’s 75th anniversary year.

The MOU establishing the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership was signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Counselor to the Secretary of the Interior exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director Margaret Everson, and Fulbright Board Chair Paul Winfree.  At its core, the new partnership will strengthen and deepen linkages between the Fulbright Program and the National Park Service, and encourage new collaboration.  The partners have also identified additional opportunities for Fulbright Program participants to study and gain professional experience within U.S. national parks and for U.S. National Park rangers to explore national parks systems around the world to advance NPS protection and conservation efforts at home.  Additionally, the partnership will create more opportunities for Fulbright students, scholars, and professionals, including Humphrey Fellows (a Fulbright activity), from around the world to learn about America’s treasure, its National Parks, during their Fulbright exchanges in the United States.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 and celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2021, the Department of State’s Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries.  The Fulbright Program annually supports more than 8,000 students, scholars, artists, and professionals from the United States and more than 160 countries to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international challenges.  Since its inception, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 participants with opportunities to make positive impacts on their communities and the world.

The Fulbright Program is administered by ECA, which designs and implements educational, professional, and cultural exchange and other programs that create and sustain mutual understanding with other countries necessary to advance United States foreign policy goals.

NPS’ mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.  The NPS cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Appointed by the President of the United States, the 12-member Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board was established by Congress to supervise the global Fulbright Program.  Representing diverse facets of American society, FFSB members select students, scholars, teachers, professionals, and others from the United States and abroad to participate in Fulbright and Humphrey Program exchanges, set policies, and guide the strategic vision of the Fulbright Program.

For more information, please visit eca.state.gov or contact ECA-Press@state.gov and NewsMedia@nps.gov.

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Protecting and Preserving a Free and Open South China Sea

14 Jan

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States and all law-abiding nations share a deep interest in the preservation of a free and open South China Sea.  All nations, regardless of military and economic power, should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed to them under international law, as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, without fear of coercion.

Today, the United States is taking additional actions to defend these rights and freedoms.  Pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of State is imposing visa restrictions on People’s Republic of China (PRC) individuals, including executives of state-owned enterprises and officials of the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea, or the PRC’s use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources in the South China Sea.  Immediate family members may be subject to these visa restrictions as well.

In addition, the Department of Commerce has added China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Limited to the Entity List in light of its role in the PRC’s campaign of coercion against other claimants of an estimated $2.5 trillion in South China Sea oil and gas resources. The Chinese Communist Party has used CNOOC and other state enterprises as weapons to attempt to enforce Beijing’s unlawful “Nine Dashed Line.” CNOOC used its mammoth survey rig HD-981 off the Paracel islands in 2014 in an attempt to intimidate Vietnam. CNOOC’s then-chief executive touted that oil rig as “mobile national territory.”

Beijing continues to send fishing fleets and energy survey vessels, along with military escorts, to operate in waters claimed by Southeast Asian nations and to harass claimant state oil and gas development in areas where it has failed to put forth a coherent, lawful maritime claim.

In a unanimous decision on July 12, 2016, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention – to which the PRC is a state party – rejected the PRC’s South China Sea maritime claims as having no basis in international law.  Last July, the United States aligned our position on the PRC’s maritime claims in the South China Sea with key aspects of the Tribunal’s decision and affirmed once again that we reject the PRC’s unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea.  We welcome the unprecedented number of countries that have formally protested these claims at the United Nations.

The United States stands with Southeast Asian claimant states seeking to defend their sovereign rights and interests, consistent with international law.  We will continue to act until we see Beijing cease its coercive behavior in the South China Sea.

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