State Department Recap: November 4-10, 2021

Here’s a look at what U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top diplomats have been doing this week.   

Ethiopia

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman returned to Addis Ababa this week after meetings in Kenya to press all parties in Ethiopia to de-escalate the conflict and enter negotiations toward a durable cessation of hostilities. The State Department declined to provide details on private discussions between Ethiopian officials, the TPLF and associated forces, as well as the African Union.

The United States also expressed concern after the United Nations said Tuesday that 22 of its Ethiopian national staff were detained by the federal government in Addis Ababa, following raids reportedly targeting ethnic Tigrayans. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, the U.S. would “condemn arrests of U.N. staff members based on ethnicity.” 

N Says 16 Staff, Dependents Detained in Ethiopia 

US, Egypt, Sudan 

— U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry opened the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue on Monday, where officials said discussions on human rights were high on the agenda. Blinken welcomed Egypt’s launch of a national human rights strategy, while noting there are other issues of concern. The U.S. said it would work with Egypt to advance key goals like reforming pretrial detention regulations, protecting the right to a free press and freedom of expression.

Blinken: US, Egypt Have ‘Shared Interest’ in Sudan’s Democratic Transition 

— On regional security, Blinken told Shoukry that the United States and Egypt have “a shared interest” in getting Sudan’s democratic transition back on track, after the Sudanese military seized power in late October. Egypt, one of Sudan’s neighbors, was notably absent from a recent joint statement issued by the U.S., United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, calling for a “full and immediate restoration” of Sudan’s “civilian-led transitional government and institutions.” Shoukry did not address last month’s Sudanese military takeover, nor did he answer questions from reporters. 

Belarus, Poland 

The State Department said it is concerned about disturbing images and reports from the Belarus/Poland border, after the Polish government accused Belarus of directing migrants toward the border as part of a campaign of “hybrid warfare.” Poland has warned of a possible armed escalation on its border with Belarus as thousands of migrants attempt to cross the frontier into the European Union. 

“The United States strongly condemns the Lukashenka regime’s political exploitation and coercion of vulnerable people, and the regime’s callous and inhumane facilitation of irregular migration flows across its borders. We call on the regime to immediately halt its campaign of orchestrating and coercing irregular migrant flows across its borders into Europe,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a briefing on Monday.

Poland Fears ‘Armed Escalation’ with Belarus as Migrants Mass on Frontier 

Iraq 

The United States is calling the attempted assassination of Iraq’s prime minister an attack on “the sovereignty and stability of the Iraqi state” and says the nature of the attack likely points to groups connected to Iran. The State Department and the Pentagon condemned the assassination attempt, warning that the Iraqi prime minister was likely not the only intended target.

US: Targeting of Iraqi PM an Attack on ‘Sovereignty, Stability’ 

Nicaragua 

The United States called Nicaragua’s election over the weekend “undemocratic,” condemning the Ortega-Murillo government for dissolving all genuine opposition parties and imprisoning all the principal presidential candidates. The State Department vowed to use all of the diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to support the people of Nicaragua and hold accountable the Ortega-Murillo government. 

Biden Condemns ‘Pantomime Election’ in Nicaragua

Myanmar 

November 8 marked the one-year anniversary since Myanmar, also known as Burma, held elections. The U.S. said last year’s elections were deemed credible, condemning Burmese military’s coup on February 1 and ongoing violent crackdown. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for Myanmar’s ruling military junta to restore the country’s path “to a genuine and inclusive democracy,” to immediately cease its violence, and release all those unjustly detained. 

Top US Diplomat Calls for Return to ‘Genuine and Inclusive Democracy’ in Myanmar

China 

— The United States urged China not to restrict journalists’ access and movements as they report on the 2022 Winter Olympics. In a statement this week, Beijing-based journalists expressed deep concerns about “the lack of transparency and clarity” of Olympics-related reporting in China. American officials, while not revealing whether the U.S. would participate in the Games, said Washington would continue to raise concerns over China’s human rights issues. 

US Urges China to Allow Journalists Freedom at Beijing Olympics 

— Meanwhile, a citizen journalist detained in China for her coverage of the coronavirus in Wuhan could die in prison, her brother says. Zhang Zhan’s declining health was raised by the U.S. State Department when it reiterated its call this week for China to ensure her “immediate and unconditional release.” 

US Calls on China to Free Citizen Journalist Zhang Zhan 

COVID-19 ministerial 

The United States says it is stepping up efforts to boost COVID-19 vaccine production and continue donating vaccines to poor countries, hoping to reach a goal of ending the pandemic by next fall. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday during a virtual COVID-19 ministerial that the U.S. has helped broker a deal between Johnson & Johnson and COVAX to facilitate the first delivery of vaccines to people living in conflict zones. 

Blinken: US Brokers Deal to Send the First Delivery of Vaccines to Conflict Zones


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