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Press Releases: Press Availability at the U.S. - Canada 2+2 Ministerial

Press Availability Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and Canadian Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan
Washington, DC
December 14, 2018

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you all for being here with us today. Secretary Mattis and I are very pleased to welcome our Canadian counterparts, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan, to Washington. Welcome. It was a great day, and indeed, it was my honor to host this State Department 2+2 Strategic Dialogue, and it’s a great opportunity for us to have gotten some serious work done, but it’s also a discussion amongst friends.

The four of us have gotten to know each other quite well. We’ve achieved a lot together. Our meeting today comes after the historic signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which was a tremendous victory for all three countries. I want to especially thank Minister Freeland for her efforts to make this happen. Look, the final deal is a home run. It modernizes NAFTA to address 21st century issues, 21st century economy, open trade and business, opportunities for United States farmers and manufacturers, reduce trade barriers amongst the three countries.

In today’s meeting, the four of us discussed how we can continue to build off of this, take this achievement and make progress on a worldwide range of bilateral and global issues. On the bilateral front, we discussed our joint efforts to ensure North America is vigorously protected by both our militaries in close cooperation with one another. We also had the chance to discuss our bilateral cooperation to promote economic security by countering technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and other attempts to acquire sensitive technology from our two countries. This will enhance security by ensuring our economic competitiveness and preserving our military capabilities. These joint efforts support a comprehensive trading relationship and millions of jobs in our two countries.

In addition to domestic priorities, we worked through a range of global issues as well. We talked about our work in collaboration as members of NATO. We discussed our response to the situation in Ukraine. I expressed my concern over Russia’s recent aggression in the Sea of Azov, where it rammed and opened fire on Ukrainian vessels. We also had the important opportunity to discuss our shared commitment to improving security in Iraq, where our nations have both made tremendous sacrifices in the name of freedom. I spoke, too, of the importance of applying pressure on the Iranian regime to stop its efforts to undermine Iraq’s democracy and security. It was great to talk about how we’ve worked closely together on North Korea, and I thank my Canadian counterparts for enforcing all of the UN Security Council resolutions and encouraging other countries to maintain pressure as well.

Of course, given the close relationship between the United States and Canada, disagreements will undoubtedly arise from time to time, but our countries have always worked closely together to resolve these challenges, including through regular and open dialogue like we’ve had had here today. I am very confident that as rough patches emerge, we’ll work through each of those challenges.

With that, I’d like to turn things over to Foreign Minister Freeland to make a few remarks, and then if you’d introduce Secretary Mattis, that’d be great.

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: Okay. Thank you, Mike. Merci beaucoup. Bonjour, tout le monde.

(Via interpreter) Hello, everyone, and thank you for being here. First of all, I would like to thank the Secretary of State Pompeo and the Secretary of Defense Mattis for their warm welcome today. Canada and the U.S. have one of the closest relationships in the whole entire world. We are allies and partners in areas such as trade, border protection, and of course, hemispheric defense and international security, especially through NATO and NORAD.

I would like to thank our hosts for giving us the opportunity to meet here today and to further discuss these topics as well as other issues of common interest for our two countries.

(In English) There are no closer partners in the world than Canada and the United States. We share the world’s longest undefended border and we are each other’s largest export market. Since the Second World War, we have worked side by side to build the rules-based international order and to fight for liberal democracy around the world.

This 2+2 meeting has been in the works for a while and it is a real pleasure to have been able to spend some time with our U.S. colleagues here in Washington to discuss our bilateral relationship and also some of the global challenges that we’re confronting together. As is always the case when we meet, we discussed a number of issues around foreign policy, defense, and international security that reflect the deeply shared values that unite our two countries. We discussed China and the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, building on a conversation that Secretary Pompeo and I began soon after her arrest. We all agree that the most important thing we can do is to uphold the rule of law, ensure that Ms. Meng’s right to due process is respected, and that the current judicial process in Canada remains apolitical. We also discussed some consular issues, two which are very concerning for Canada today: the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

On Russia and Ukraine, Minister Sajjan and I expressed our condemnation of Russia’s harassment of shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, and in particular its recent aggressive action towards an illegal seizure of three Ukrainian vessels on November 25th and the imprisonment of Ukrainian sailors. We call on Russia to release these sailors. Canada unwaveringly supports the people of Ukraine, its sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

We touched on some hemispheric issues, including the brutal authoritarian regime that is causing a dangerous crisis in Venezuela as well as troubling developments in Nicaragua. We took the opportunity to reiterate our support for the United States efforts towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and our efforts in the area of sanctions evasion.

In an ever-changing global landscape, it’s important that countries are able to nimbly respond to flagrant violations of the international order. An effective and targeted sanctions regime is key to this. Canada and the U.S. both have Magnitsky legislation, and we discussed ways to work together even more closely in this area. As a founding member of NATO, Canada will continue to do its part for transatlantic security and stability. My colleague, Minister Sajjan, Harj, will speak to some of the important work that we’re doing alongside the U.S. and NATO and as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh.

As Mike said, we spoke about our trading relationship, and we talked about the fact that we now have a modernized trade agreement for our continent. And I do agree with Mike that this is a good deal for all three countries.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Minister Sajjan and I did raise one of those difficult bilateral issues that Mike referred to: the U.S. imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs under Section 232. Canada continues to take the view that these tariffs are unjust and illegal, and we spoke to our partners about how the national security justification for these tariffs we believe is inconsistent with our close relationship. I met earlier today with Ambassador Lighthizer, and we also discussed the 232 tariffs this morning.

The close relationship between Canada and the United States is a model for integration and creative collaboration on the world stage, and today was a great opportunity to talk about how we can work even more closely together on our continent and around the world. I’d like to thank you again, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Mattis, for hosting us. Canada deeply values and appreciates our partnership and opportunities to continue to work even more closely together.

And it is now my pleasure to introduce a tremendous public servant, a great friend of Canada, Secretary Mattis.

SECRETARY MATTIS: Well, thank you, Minister Freeland, and I echo Secretary Pompeo’s comment that ours was a discussion among friends. Minister Sajjan and I last saw one another just eight days ago in Ottawa, and today’s meeting signals how our two militaries work to stay closely aligned on a range of issues worldwide. For Americans feel an enduring, almost familiar kinship with Canada, and in my case it is familial. My mother’s family immigrated to America after my grandfather was wounded in action in World War I in the Canadian infantry.

Canadian and American forces have fought bravely alongside each other in the Great War, at Normandy, to Kandahar, Afghanistan following the 9/11 attack on our country. And today we continue our cooperation in pursuit of our mutual security. We are united in the North American Air Defense Command, where Canadian and U.S. fighters together guard the skies above North America and our 360 million people. We are united in NATO, where we uphold transatlantic unity and stand with European allies against the full scope of Russian malign influence, to include Moscow’s recent brazen contempt of international law in the Kerch Strait and action against the Ukrainian people.

Canadian and U.S. trainers in western Ukraine and our battalions in the Baltics represent our combined efforts to build stability and deter further provocative activity. Canada and the United States are united in security because we are united in democracy, and democracies stick together for the common defense. Today we focused on enhancing our already strong cooperation in a number of areas that you’ve heard about, from foreign military sales to sanctions coordination. Like Secretary Pompeo, I am grateful for Canada’s leadership enforcing unanimous UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions that support the denuclearization of North Korea.

Regarding the Middle East, we affirmed the need to continue the fight against ISIS’s hardened core and to maintain support to our partners in Iraq, an approach endorsed as well by 16 nations we met with last week in Ottawa. Accordingly, we are evolving our defeat ISIS coalition because we must not fall into complacency, recognizing that ISIS remains a strong terrorist enemy as it adapts to the crushing loss of its physical caliphate.

To close, last month Americans observed Veteran’s Day. Canada has Remembrance Day. But whatever the name, together we recalled our shared battlefield sacrifices and the many instances when the maple leaf and the stars and stripes have flown side by side against threats to our shared values. Come what may, I am confident Canada and the United States will continue to work shoulder to shoulder now and in the future.

Minister Sajjan, my friend, the floor is yours.

DEFENSE MINISTER SAJJAN: Great. Thank you, Secretary Mattis, and thank you, Secretary Pompeo for your being tremendous hosts. Secretary Mattis and I also share another mutual understanding, which is we’re both from the West Coast as well, which he reminded me of early on.

As my colleague Minister Freeland said, we have had a productive meeting to discuss our shared defense priorities. The United States is Canada’s most important ally and defense partner. Our relationship is longstanding, deeply entrenched, and multifaceted. It was – our relationship was forged on the battlefield fighting side by side. It is rooted in our shared geography, in our common values, in our historic connections, and in our highly integrated economies, and it is unique in its levels of integration and military-to-military cooperations at all levels and across the globe. The Canadian Armed Forces and the United States military stand shoulder to shoulder to protect and defend the continent of our citizens.

NORAD is the most notable example of this cooperation. We have been working together seamlessly for over 60 years since its inception to protect North America against current and future threats. Our militaries are highly interoperable. We are constantly learning from each other through our regional, continental, and international exercises. We provide collective transatlantic defense through NATO.

We are participating in multinational efforts to – also to enforce sanctions against North Korea. At the UN command in Korea, Canada is the second-largest contributor after the U.S. And earlier this year, General Eyre became the first Canadian to hold the post of deputy commander. And last week, as Secretary Mattis just said, Canada co-hosted the counter-ISIS ministerial meeting in Ottawa, and we discussed the next steps to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh and its networks, and Canada remains committed to the coalition. This is evident through our Operation Impact and our leadership of the NATO training mission in Iraq.

As Minister Freeland mentioned, Canada also supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression. We have trained more than 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers as part of Operation Unifier, and at any given time we have about 800 – over 800 Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Operation Reassurance, and they are supporting NATO deterrence measures in Eastern and Central Europe alongside our American allies. Canada is also leading NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, similar to the U.S. presence in Poland, and we have recently extended this mission by four years.

In the Asia-Pacific region Canada is engaged in Op Projection and working with the U.S. and other partners on regional security and defense cooperations.

And ladies and gentlemen, these are just a few examples of the depth and breadth of the Canada-U.S. defense partnership. Our cooperation offers both countries greater securities, and we will always remain strong allies and partners and even better friends.

Thank you.

MR PALLADINO: We now have time for a few questions. We would ask each reporter to please limit your question to one and no follow-ups, please. For the first question, I’d like to call on the BBC, Barbara Plett Usher.

QUESTION: A question to the Secretaries of State and Defense. Yesterday the Senate voted to withdraw troops from Yemen, or to end U.S. military involvement there I should say, and to unanimously censure Mohammed bin Salman as responsible for the Khashoggi killing. What is your response? What action will you take, and can you afford to ignore this?

And to the Canadian foreign minister, are you concerned that President Trump’s comments linking trade and the Huawei case suggest a perception that Canada is acting on the Americans’ behalf in a trade war? And are you worried that Canada is becoming collateral damage in what is a trade tension between China and the United States, because China has arrested Canadians, but on the other hand it has agreed to suspend tariffs on U.S. cars.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So perhaps I’ll begin. So we certainly saw the vote yesterday. We always have great respect for what the Legislative Branch does, and we are in constant contact with members on Capitol Hill so that we understand fully their concerns and do our level best to articulate why our policies are what they are and how we can ensure that we’re getting the right policy for the United States of America and to keep our country safe. And we’ll certainly do that in light of yesterday’s vote, and President Trump’s been very clear about the importance – not only importance of holding accountable those who murdered Jamal Khashoggi, but the importance of protecting American citizens.

There are hundreds of thousands of people that the Iranians killed and been involved in their deaths all across the Middle East. There’s real risk to the United States of America. You’ll recall that the Iranians and their explosive devices killed hundreds of American soldiers, and President Trump is determined to make sure that we protect America all the while holding accountable those who committed the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

SECRETARY MATTIS: I don’t want to repeat what the Secretary said. I’ll just add that besides that vote yesterday in the Senate, which we respect, there was also progress announced by the UN secretary-general in Stockholm to end the war, which required our engagement with all the parties and a strategic approach to ending that war that has gone on too long.

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: Okay, when it comes to the case of the detention of Ms. Meng, Canada is a rule of law country. We believe in honoring our international treaty commitments and in respecting the rule of law and due process in our own country. In the case of Ms. Meng, due process and rule of law in Canada has been scrupulously followed. There has been no political interference in this process. It’s very important for Canada that Ms. Meng be treated with full respect and be given full access to due process in Canada, as she has been. She has currently been by the decision of a Canadian judge released on bail.

When it comes to the rule of law and due process in Canada, including in extradition matters, Canada understands that the rule of law and extradition issues ought not ever to be politicized or used as tools to resolve other issues, and that is the very clear position which Canada expresses to all of its partners. It’s a position which I have explained particularly with regard to rule of law in Canada in a conversation with the Chinese ambassador to Canada earlier this week, and it’s an issue which all of us discussed today.

And I do just finally want to say, because you’ve mentioned the two Canadians who are detained in China, it’s really important to remember these are human beings. As foreign minister, I think for me and for the prime minister there are no issues that touch us more personally and immediately than the detention of Canadians outside our country. We’re very, very seized of the issue. We’re very concerned about these two Canadians, and that is a concern that we discussed in our meeting today.

MODERATOR: (Speaking in French.)

QUESTION: (Via interpreter, in progress) Minister Freeland can answer in French and English after. Madam Freeland, do you have the impression currently that Canada is paying a heavy price for having been involved in this Huawei case and having charged the CFO of Huawei? And some of our citizens have been arrested in China. Do you have the impression that you are being used currently and we are being stuck between the United States and China in this trade war against your will and you are being used politically currently by the United States?

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: (Via interpreter) I’m not in complete agreement with the question, the way it was phrased, because for Canada it was not – the detention of Ms. Meng was not a political decision on Canada’s part. It was a matter of following the rules. It’s a matter of obligations on the part of Canada to follow through with its obligations under international agreements. Canada follows the rule of law; Canada follows rules. It is very important, especially when there’s a lot of pressure on the very idea of democracy in the world, when there’s a lot of pressure on international order. Canada will thus continue to follow the rules. This is a strong position of our governments. By the same token, it is also very important for Canada that extradition agreements are not used for political purposes. Canada does not do it that way, and I believe that it is obvious that democratic countries such as our partner, the U.S., do the same.

Today we talked about our shared values, and one of them is the fact that both countries, the U.S. and Canada, are countries that follow the rule of law and follow rules in general.

(In English) I don’t entirely agree with the framing of the question. Canada in detaining Ms. Meng was not making a political judgment. In Canada, there has been, to this point, no political interference in this issue at all. For Canada, this is a question of living up to our international treaty obligations and following the rule of law in Canada, and that is something which has happened scrupulously. Canada is a rule-of-law country.

We discussed a little bit in our opening remarks how Canada and the United States are countries with deeply shared democratic values. Those democratic values include the fact that in both countries, we have a deep regard for the rule of law and strong and independent judiciaries. I think that’s one of the reasons that Canada and the United States, and both Canadians and Americans, feel comfortable with the existence of an extradition treaty between our two countries. And having said all of that, Canada is clearly of the view that extradition – the extradition process – is a criminal justice process. This is not a tool that should be used for politicized ends.

SECRETARY POMPEO: You didn’t ask me, but – and if I may, I’m just going to answer in English.

QUESTION: Oui, s’il (inaudible).

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: I’d like to hear you try to do it in French. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POMPEO: I can’t say much about the process because we have a U.S. judicial process that is underway, an extradition process that is underway. I can say this: The unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens is unacceptable. They ought to be returned. The United States has stood for that whether they’re our citizens or citizens of other countries. We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly, and the detention of these two Canadian citizens in China ought to end.

MR PALLADINO: CNN, Elise Labott.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I’d like to follow up on your remarks just now. It does seem as if China is using these two – the detention of these two Canadian citizens – as kind of a bargaining chip on the trade talks between the U.S. and China. And I think the minister alluded to that when she suggested that these type of detentions are so concerning and shouldn’t be politicized. Do you think that’s what China’s doing here? And are you concerned that with President Trump’s suggestion that he might be willing to get involved in this other case of Ms. Meng in Canada, that that further puts Canada in a difficult situation and kind of puts Canada in the middle of your trade dispute with China? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I think that’s just the same question that was asked previously. I don’t see it that way. The United States is engaged in an extradition process. Ms. Meng travelled to Canada. The Canadians have taken her into custody, now released her on bail pending extradition, an extradition hearing. We’ll continue to engage through legal processes to get the just outcome that’s connected to that. We have a set of trade discussions that are ongoing with the Chinese. As the Chinese have said, we’re working on that while all the other issues – not just this particular issue, we have lots of complicated issues going on with China today all around the world. And we work on each of those to get good outcomes for the people of the United States of America and respecting the rule of law each step along the way. We’ll do that here as well.

MODERATOR: Next question. Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail.

QUESTION: Thank you. Minister, it’s clear, it seems – sorry, Minister Freeland, it’s clear that these two Canadians were – appear to have been detained as a Chinese retaliation against the Huawei situation. Why won’t you sort of acknowledge that directly? And then as well, what is the – how was Michael Kovrig doing when our ambassador met with him in Beijing?

And Secretary Pompeo, is there anything that the U.S. is going to do to sort of lean on China to get them to release these people who have been detained, given that President Trump appears to have quite a good relationship with President Xi? Is there anything that you guys will do to sort of help Canada get these guys back?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Let me go first. Yeah, we’re going to work to get every citizen unlawfully detained all around the world returned to the country to which they have the very right to go back to. We do this in cases for our own people all the time. It’s something, as Chrystia said, weighs on those of us who serve to try and make sure that our citizens do have the opportunity to be returned home to their families. We always believe in that, we’ll always work on it, and we’ll do it in this case as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: Thank you for that, Mike. So Adrian, I have spoken this week with the Chinese ambassador to Canada and we’ve had many contacts with Chinese authorities. Chinese officials in their contact with Canada have not drawn a connection between these different issues.

From Canada’s perspective, these kinds of issues ought never to be confused with one another. In the detention of Ms. Meng, Canada was, as I’ve said, acting scrupulously in line with our treaty commitments and in line with the rule of law. And as Mike has said, the next step while Ms. Meng is on bail in Vancouver is for a Canadian court and Canadian judges to rule on whether the extradition is warranted or not.

Of course, Canadian citizen – we will always advocate strongly and fiercely for Canadian citizens when they are detained abroad. In the cases of Mr. Korvig and Mr. Spavor, our immediate concern has been to gain consular access to them and to understand what the charges are being put on them by the Chinese authorities, and we are seeking that – we’re advocating for them very, very aggressively.

Ambassador McCallum was able now to see and speak with and meet with Mr. Kovrig and we’re glad that that could happen. I’ve spoken also to family members of both men, and I just want to say and reassure all Canadians, but especially the family and friends of Mr. Kovrig, Mr. Spavor, this is a huge priority for our government. We are extremely seized of this issue. We care for, we fight for all Canadians detained abroad, and actually, as Mike said, all people unfairly detained abroad, but specifically we have a specific duty of care to Canadians, and we fight for everybody. Mr. Kovrig is also an employee of my department, he’s well known to many Canadian diplomats, and that makes it especially personal for us.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

FOREIGN MINISTER FREELAND: You know what? I’m going to let – I’m going to respect his privacy and the privacy of his family. We’ve shared with his family details of the meeting.

MR PALLADINO: Thank you all for attending today. That concludes our press conference.


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Press Releases: Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mattis' Meeting with Canada's Foreign Minister Freeland and Defense Minister Sajjan

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 14, 2018

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis hosted Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan for policy discussions at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on December 14. The four reviewed joint security initiatives in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world. They discussed mutual concerns about the detention of Canadian nationals in China. The Secretaries and Ministers also discussed a number of global issues on which the United States and Canada cooperate, including DPRK, Ukraine, NATO, Syria, and Iraq. They also discussed ways to promote our shared economic prosperity and security.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: The United States Sanctions Three Individuals for Threatening Peace in South Sudan

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 14, 2018

Today, the United States imposed sanctions on three individuals for their roles in the conflict in South Sudan. Israel Ziv and Obac William Olawo were designated by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) for being leaders of entities whose actions expanded or extend the conflict in South Sudan. Gregory Vasili was designated by OFAC for actions that have undermined peace, stability, and security in South Sudan. OFAC further designated a total of six entities owned and/or controlled by Ziv and Olawo. The United States is sending a message that the behavior of these persons is unacceptable and contrary to the ongoing and significant U.S. efforts to assist the people of South Sudan and establish a lasting peaceful resolution to the current conflict.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of those designated by OFAC, that is in the United States or the possession or control of a U.S. person, must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, U.S. persons and persons in the United States are generally prohibited from any dealings with the designated persons, including entities 50 percent or more owned and/or controlled by such persons.

Today’s action underscores the United States’ steadfast support for the South Sudanese people. The United States will take forceful action against those who undermine the peace, stability, or security of South Sudan, obstruct the peace process, or are responsible for human rights abuses or other atrocities in South Sudan. The United States recognizes the progress already made on the peace process, and further urges South Sudan’s leaders to honor their commitment to immediately stop the violence and to fully implement the latest peace agreement.

The United States will use all available mechanisms to promote a permanent end to the brutal conflict in South Sudan, where millions of civilians have suffered at the hands of military forces, in order to bring peace, freedom, and prosperity to the South Sudanese people.

For further information, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release available here.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Conclusion of the Fourth Round of Negotiations To Modernize the Columbia River Treaty Regime

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 14, 2018

The United States and Canada held the fourth round of negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime December 12-13 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Building on information shared during previous rounds, the U.S. and Canadian negotiators discussed U.S. priorities including continued careful flood risk management; reliable and economical power supply maintenance; and ecosystem benefit improvement. Negotiators continued to take into account the views of the people who live and work in the Columbia River Basin.

Jill Smail is the U.S. Chief Negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty. The U.S. negotiating team is comprised of representatives from the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division; the Department of the Interior; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The next round of negotiations will take place February 27-28 in Washington, DC.

The U.S. negotiating team will hold regular town hall meetings throughout the Columbia River Basin to hear from the U.S. public on the modernization of the Columbia River Treaty regime. The last town hall took place September 6 in Portland, Oregon and the next one is planned for early 2019.

For more information on the Treaty and upcoming Town Halls, please visit: https://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/ca/topics/c78892.htm.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Repression of Civil Society, Human Rights Defenders, and Independent Media in Nicaragua

Press Statement Robert Palladino
Deputy Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The Nicaraguan regime’s recent actions to strip legal status from non-governmental organizations, including groups monitoring human rights, reveal President Ortega’s and Vice President Murillo’s continued contempt for human rights in their own country. Their efforts to harass, threaten, and repress independent media will not succeed in hiding the systematic oppression of the Nicaraguan people.

Ortega and Murillo continue to degrade their country’s institutions in a desperate bid to hold on to power. Arbitrary and anti-democratic measures further discredit the Ortega regime in the eyes of Nicaraguans and the world. The United States continues to stand with the people of Nicaragua in their quest to restore democracy through early, free and fair elections.

Pursuant to the Executive Order signed by President Trump on November 27, the United States will hold accountable those responsible for the abuses taking place in Nicaragua, including any individuals complicit with the regime. We urge the international community to join us condemning these actions and take concrete measures to impose additional costs for the regime’s anti-democratic behavior.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Main results of the European Council

The European Council on 13-14 December 2018 adopted conclusions on the MFF, the single market, migration and other items, namely external relations, climate change, security and defence, disinformation, the fight against racism and xenophobia and citizens' consultations. 

Plenary highlights: Japan deal, Sakharov Prize, terrorism, budget

MEPs backed a trade deal with Japan, awarded the Sakharov Prize to Oleg Sentsov and paid tribute to the victims of Tuesday’s terror attack in Strasbourg during December’s plenary session. 

Press Releases: Death of Iranian Political Prisoner and Human Rights Activist Vahid Sayadi-Nassiri

Press Statement Robert Palladino
Deputy Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

We are deeply saddened by the reports of the unconscionable death of Mr. Vahid Sayadi-Nassiri, a human rights activist who the Iranian regime arbitrarily detained and who died in prison. Mr. Sayadi-Nassiri went on a hunger strike to protest his arbitrary arrest and detention in Qom, where he had no access to legal counsel, was held in inhumane conditions, and was charged with spurious national security offences such as “insulting the Supreme Leader.” Mr. Sayadi-Nassiri languished in prison without his voice able to reach the outside world and he is just one of many more unjustly detained prisoners held at the mercy of the Iranian regime’s whims.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the Iranian regime for its unceasingly flagrant human rights violations. We demand that the regime stops subjecting Iranians who are peacefully voicing their opinions to brutal conditions and slow deaths and that it release all those unjustly imprisoned; such as Dr. Farhad Meisami – who is also on hunger strike, and Nissrin Satoudeh. How many more people will die because of the Iranian regime’s disregard for human life and dignity? Ayatollah Khamenei recently said “No one in Iran is prosecuted or placed under pressure for criticizing the government, and if any one claims they have been, he or she has lied.” Who is the liar?

We offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Sayadi-Nassiri and we demand that the regime give the Iranian people the respect and rights that they deserve.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With Greek Acting Foreign Minister George Katrougalos

Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Greek Acting Foreign Minister George Katrougalos launched the inaugural U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue today at the State Department. The two reaffirmed their commitment to deepen bilateral cooperation in key areas for the mutual benefit of both countries. The Secretary underscored Greece’s importance as a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans and commended Greece’s contributions as a NATO Ally. The Secretary reiterated the strong support of the United States for Greece’s leadership in reaching the historic Prespa Agreement. The Secretary also congratulated Greece on its exit from the bailout memorandums and offered continued support for Greece’s economic recovery. The two agreed to continue working closely together to promote stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans.


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Press Releases: Conclusion of Yemen Consultations in Sweden

Press Statement Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The United States commends participants from the Yemen consultations in Sweden for making progress on key initiatives, including a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces in Hudaydah, prisoner exchanges, and opening humanitarian corridors to the city of Taiz. Although many details remain subject to further discussion, these consultations between the Republic of Yemen Government and the Houthis marked a pivotal first step. All parties have an opportunity to build upon this momentum and improve the lives of all Yemenis. Moving forward, all must continue to engage, de-escalate tensions, and cease ongoing hostilities. This is the best way to give these and future consultations a chance to succeed. The United States thanks UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for his leadership on these efforts, continued optimism, and ability to inspire reconciliation. We also thank the Government of Sweden for hosting, as well as the governments of Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the many others that helped facilitate and support the consultations. The work ahead will not be easy, but we have seen what many considered improbable begin to take shape. Peace is possible. The end of these consultations can be the beginning of a new chapter for Yemen.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Joint Statement Regarding the Inaugural United States-Greece Strategic Dialogue

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and Greece on the occasion of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue.

Begin Text:

The Governments of the United States and Greece held the inaugural U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greek Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs George Katrougalos launched the Dialogue, which included high-level interagency representation from both countries.

The Strategic Dialogue builds on a year of intensive engagement, highlights the strength of the bilateral relationship, and confirms the mutual commitment of the United States and Greece to deepen cooperation in the areas described below.

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Greece shared views of the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans, noting their common vision for a peaceful and prosperous region, the need to integrate the countries of the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions, according to the choice of their people, and the aim of further linking partners in the Eastern Mediterranean in a framework of political and economic ties. The two countries underlined the importance of respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of differences, as a guiding principle to good neighborly relations and as a means to resolving problems and addressing tensions. The United States lauded Greece’s leadership and vision in promoting regional stability and cooperation, in particular, Athens’ initiatives in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans to facilitate common regional economic and security benefits, as well as in reaching the Prespes Agreement with Skopje and working towards its implementation. The two sides also reviewed investment and infrastructure development in the Western Balkans. Greece emphasized the continued challenges related to refugees and migrants in Europe, and the two governments discussed the possibility for U.S. support in this area. Greece discussed its trilateral partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean and the United States expressed interest in increasing its support for the Greece-Israel-Cyprus trilateral discussion, as invited.

Defense and Security

The United States and Greece discussed common security concerns, such as international terrorism and instability in the Eastern Mediterranean region and reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance their strategic defense and security partnership, which promotes stability and prosperity in the region and contributes to the strength of NATO. The two governments also expressed their desire to modernize and expand their multifaceted defense relationship in order to better meet the needs of both countries and to more effectively address regional and global security challenges, citing recent successes in combined joint training and security exercises, and an increase in our joint activities.

Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism

Both sides emphasized the importance of their cooperation on law enforcement and counterterrorism issues that has led to many important successes in the areas of convictions, seizures of weapons and many-hundred kilogram quantities of illicit narcotics, repatriation of antiquities, and disruption and dismantling of transnational criminal organizations. The United States highlighted Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program and the positive progress Greece has made toward fulfilling the commitments of the 2016 Joint Statement. The two governments committed to enhance law enforcement cooperation, including in the areas of information exchange, border security cooperation, and countering illicit activity.

Trade and Investment

Building on the positive momentum from the Thessaloniki International Fair, Greece, and the United States committed to boosting bilateral trade and investment, including in key sectors such as energy, defense, IT, entertainment, and infrastructure. The United States congratulated Greece on its exit from financial support programs and on opening a new economic chapter, while acknowledging the challenges Greece still faces as it continues on the path to recovery. The United States highlighted the increasing role of Greece as an energy, transport, and commercial hub in the region, and the two countries committed to cooperate in further strengthening this role. The United States and Greece committed to work together to strengthen intellectual property rights protection in Greece. The United States reaffirmed its support for Greek efforts to make the necessary reforms to improve competitiveness, with the two sides committing to continued engagement through the Trade and Investment Working Group.

Energy

The two governments noted the need to improve Europe’s energy security and diversification, highlighting the recent spot purchase of U.S. LNG and ongoing negotiations for a long-term supply agreement. The United States commended Greece’s progress on energy projects to expand regional interconnectivity to include the enlarged Revithoussa LNG terminal, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, and the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, and supports additional infrastructure designed to diversify routes and supplies, to include the proposed LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis and the Eastern Med pipeline, where commercially feasible. The two sides also discussed cooperation on renewables and clean and efficient coal technologies. The United States supports Greece’s joining the Three Seas Initiative and related efforts to strengthen Europe’s North-South interconnectivity.

People-to-People Ties

Both sides recognized the strong people-to-people ties connecting the two countries and the vital role these ties play in fortifying the bilateral relationship. The two governments discussed ways to increase cooperation between museums, student exchange programs and English language programs, and celebrated the summer 2019 launch of the FLEX exchange program. The United States announced the selection of Greece as the host for the first-ever Gilman Scholar Regional Summit, expected to take place in 2019. The two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to the Fulbright Program on its 70th anniversary.

The United States and Greece look forward to continuing these discussions throughout the coming year, with the aim of reviewing progress at the next Dialogue in Greece in 2019.


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External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Deputy Secretary Sullivan's Meeting With Austrian Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Peterlik

Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan met today in Vienna with Austrian Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Johannes Peterlik. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Sullivan reaffirmed the importance of U.S.-Austrian bilateral relations and thanked him for Austria’s contributions to security cooperation in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans. The Deputy Secretary also emphasized the need to counter the malign activities of the Iranian regime such as its ballistic missile program and the importance of maintaining sanctions on Russia.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Kazakhstan's Independence Day

Press Statement Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

On behalf of the American people, I warmly congratulate the people of Kazakhstan as you celebrate 27 years of your nation’s independence on December 16.

Following President Nazarbayev’s trip to Washington, which charted a path forward for increased cooperation between our two countries, the United States and Kazakhstan have embarked on an enhanced strategic partnership. We congratulate Kazakhstan on the upcoming successful conclusion of its two-year term as rotating chair in the United Nations Security Council, and have appreciated the leadership Kazakhstan has brought to the world stage on regional security and development issues, particularly with respect to Afghanistan. We also express our appreciation to the Government of Kazakhstan for deploying its first peacekeeping force to assist the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Kazakhstan has assumed a key role on the global stage as a partner in ensuring peace and stability, and in promoting economic development and connectivity in Central Asia and beyond.

We look forward to continuing to expand our dynamic relationship with Kazakhstan in new ways for the benefit of both the Kazakhstani and American people.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Launch Event and First Regional Workshop of the GCTF Initiative To Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Threats

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The United States and Germany, under the auspices of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), launched the Initiative to Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Threats on December 13, 2018 in Berlin. The launch event was held alongside the Initiative’s first regional workshop on December 14, which focused on countering the UAS threat in Europe. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative aims to develop a set of non-binding good practices that can assist countries in developing or expanding national action plans to identify, prioritize, and implement policies and measures to counter terrorist use of UAS.

The GCTF works at the forefront of addressing emerging terrorist threats, such as the use of UAS against civilian targets. ISIS and other terrorist groups are using this technology to conduct reconnaissance, drop explosives, and spread propaganda. Rapidly improving technology and easier access increase the possibility of terrorists using UAS against civilian targets. As these attacks are increasing in complexity and frequency, multilateral cooperation is needed to develop a substantive guide for governments to counter terrorist use of UAS.

Participants from national and local governments and international organizations at the launch event and workshop exchanged assessments of the threat, national policies, and legislative responses towards terrorist use of UAS, and established technologies to counter UAS. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative will convene three additional regional workshops throughout 2019 in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. These workshops will inform the development of a good practices document for countering terrorist UAS threats, which will be put forward for endorsement at the GCTF Ministerial in 2019.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: Deputy Secretary Sullivan's Participation in U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue With Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Syromolotov

Readout Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan participated today in a U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue in Vienna, Austria. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for counterterrorism, Oleg Vladimirovich Syromolotov, attended on behalf of his government.

Despite our continued concerns with Russia’s destabilizing activity, the United States seeks to facilitate the sharing of any information that can protect the United States, its people, and its interests against terrorist attacks. In addition to discussing the reciprocal exchange of information, the Deputy Secretary raised a number of issues, to include foreign terrorist fighters, preventing terrorist travel, and the protection of major international sporting events. Deputy Secretary Sullivan also addressed Russia’s attempts to undermine democratic institutions and its continued aggression in Ukraine. Going forward, U.S. and Russian experts will meet at the working level to explore whether further cooperation on counterterrorism will be possible.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Press Releases: U.S. - Canada 2+2 Ministerial

Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 13, 2018

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense will co-host the U.S. – Canada 2+2 Ministerial on Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Department of State.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will join Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan for policy discussions on priority issues in the bilateral relationship, regional cooperation, and joint security initiatives.

There will be a joint press availability following the ministerial at 1:10 p.m. The press availability will be open press.

Preset time for cameras is 12:15 p.m. from the 23rd Street entrance. Final access time for writers and stills is 12:45 p.m. from the 23rd Street entrance.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued photo media credential (e.g., Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), or (2) an official photo identification card issued by their news organization, or (3) a letter from their employer on official letterhead verifying their current employment as a journalist.

Additionally, they must present an official government photo identification card (i.e., U.S. driver's license or passport).

For more information, please contact the State Department Office of Press Relations, 202-647-2492 or via e-mail at PAPressDuty@state.gov.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

18 striking findings from 2018

Pew Research Center takes the pulse of Americans and people around the world on many issues every year. Read 18 of this year’s standout findings.

The post 18 striking findings from 2018 appeared first on Pew Research Center.

VA hospitals outperform private hospitals in most markets, according to Dartmouth study

According to an independent Dartmouth study recently published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals outperform private hospitals in most health care markets throughout the country.

Press Releases: On the Attack in Strasbourg

Press Statement Robert Palladino
Deputy Spokesperson Washington, DC
December 12, 2018

The United States stands in solidarity with France and condemns in the strongest terms the horrific act of terror in Strasbourg. Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of those affected and with all the people of Strasbourg. We commend the work of the first responders, and are ready to provide any assistance that French officials require in this difficult time. We remain committed to working with France and our other allies and partners to defeat the global threat of terrorism. Crimes that target the innocent only reinforce our shared resolve to stop these senseless attacks and those who would commit them.

The U.S. Mission to France has issued a Security Alert to inform U.S. citizens of the attack, and stands ready to provide consular assistance to any affected U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness and monitor media and local information sources. We also strongly encourage U.S. citizens in Strasbourg to contact family and friends in the United States directly to inform them of their safety and whereabouts.


The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

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