U.S. Policy Update for Monday, 18 April2016

World map, political view

Today’s topics:    Obama’s London trip /  Kerry’s call with Russia’s Lavrov / North Korea nuclear tests / Japan Earthquake / AS Thomas-Greenfield London travel


President Obama’s London Trip

14 April 2016 Press Briefing Previewing the President’s Travel to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Germany   The President will be meeting with some of our key allies and partners in the world in both the Gulf and in Europe.  And so it’s a very important chance for him to coordinate our approaches on issues ranging from the counter-ISIL campaign to efforts to promote regional stability in the Middle East, to our support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to efforts to promote global economic growth.  So this will have a broad agenda and a very consequential series of engagements in the Gulf and Europe.

On Friday, April 22nd, the President will have a lunch with Queen Elizabeth.  This visit coincides with her 90th birthday.  The President has very much enjoyed his engagements with the Queen over the years.  As a general matter, he felt that in his final year in office it would be very important for him to visit our close ally, the United Kingdom, given our special relationship and all the work that we do together around the world.  So part of that, of course, involves our longstanding relationship with the Queen.  And so he’ll have the chance to have lunch with her at Windsor Castle.

Following the lunch with the Queen, the President will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Cameron.  Obviously, we work very closely with the United Kingdom on a host of issues around the world to include the counter-ISIL campaign, counterterrorism efforts, our efforts together in Afghanistan, our efforts, again, to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine, and our collaboration in terms of promoting global economic growth.  So a broad agenda to discuss with Prime Minister Cameron.  That meeting will be followed, of course, by a joint press conference.

Then on Saturday morning, the President will have a town hall meeting with young people, as he’s done in many different countries around the world, at Lindley Hall in London, where he’ll have the chance to talk about the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, the agenda that we share together, and the world, and his vision for the future of the cooperation between our two countries.


North Korea

FILE - A South Korean army soldier walks by a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: "North Korea's nuclear warhead" during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2016.
FILE – A South Korean army soldier walks by a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: “North Korea’s nuclear warhead” during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2016.

18 April 2016 North Korea Accelerates Nuclear Testing After Sanctions   In the short-term, there seems little the world can do to stop North Korea from conducting a fifth nuclear test in the very near future.   On Monday the South Korean Defense Ministry said Washington and Seoul are monitoring an increase in activities at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site that likely indicate preparations are underway for another nuclear test.

The Kim Jong Un government has responded defiantly after the United Nations Security Council imposed tough new international sanctions on North Korea in March for conducting its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a long-range rocket launch in February.

North Korea’s moves to accelerate its nuclear weapons development, some analysts say, are attempts to intimidate the international community to accept it as a nuclear power and to solidify Kim Jong Un’s power within the country in advance of the ruling Workers Party congress in early May.



15 April 2016 Secretary Kerry’s Phone Call With Foreign Minister Lavrov    Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today via phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to reiterate our serious concerns over the ongoing threats to the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria and the urgent need for the Assad regime to stop its violations of the cessation. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov reaffirmed the importance of the preservation and solidification of the cessation and said that all parties needed to comply with the cessation. Secretary Kerry said the United States expected Russia to urge the regime to comply with the cessation and that we would work with the opposition to do the same.

The Secretary also registered our strong objections to unsafe maneuvers executed by Russian military aircraft over the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea.

Japanese Earthquake

US Marines loading cargo into a cargo plane
Following the 16 April 2016, earthquake near Kumamoto, Japan, U.S. forces in the country are preparing to support the Japanese government’s relief efforts. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dengrier M. Baez)

17 April 2016 U.S. Forces in Japan Prepare to Support Earthquake Relief Efforts   U.S. forces in Japan are is preparing to provide operational airlift in support of the Japanese government’s relief efforts following yesterday’s devastating earthquake near Kumamoto.

“We express our deepest condolences to all of those affected by the recent earthquakes in Kyushu,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. John L. Dolan, commander of U.S. Forces Japan. “We are working closely with the government of Japan to provide assistance and support. To the people of Japan and the region affected by this tragedy, we send our heartfelt sympathies. The men and women of U.S. Forces Japan stand with you during this difficult time.”

The long-standing alliance between Japan and the United States allows U.S. military forces in Japan to provide rapid, integrated support to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and civil relief efforts, officials said in a news release.


State Dept. Travel

15 April 2016 Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield to Travel to Accra and London      Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield is traveling to Accra and London April 17-22, 2016.

In London, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will attend the biannual P3 High Level Africa Security Meeting with UK and French partners. The meeting will focus on P3 support for African-led peacekeeping, efforts to support Nigeria and the other Lake Chad Basin countries in the fight against Boko Haram as well as P3 support for ongoing AU and UN efforts in Somalia and the Sahel. She will also meet with UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge on the margins of the P3 meeting.

For further information, please visit www.state.gov/p/af or follow @StateAfrica on Twitter.


White House News

14 April 2016 Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker     The leaders agreed that a unified European policy was critical to addressing the region’s migration crisis, and pledged to continue close cooperation on assisting refugees and dismantling smuggling networks. The leaders also discussed the importance of continuing close bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism cooperation in the wake of terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. The leaders expressed concern about escalating violence in the east of Ukraine. They reiterated their commitment to maintain U.S.-EU sanctions on Russia until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented.

14 April 2016 Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine The Vice President congratulated the President on the new cabinet and government program of work that were approved by the Rada today. The Vice President stressed that Ukraine must use the renewed political stability to move forward on the reforms required to secure Ukraine’s future – including fulfilling Ukraine’s IMF commitments. The Vice President also stressed the urgency of putting in place a new Prosecutor General who would bolster the agency’s anti-corruption efforts and strongly support the work of its reformers.