Today’s topics: Libya Ministerial / Syrian update / Oregon / DoD on Asia-Pacific & Counter-ISIL / Iraq offensive against ISIL / Memorial Day weekend
16 May 2016 Secretary Kerry’s Remarks at the Libya Ministerial, Vienna, Austria “As the communique that we produced earlier makes clear, it is imperative to put the international community’s full weight behind the Government of National Accord. And the GNA is the only entity that can unify the country and address the economic crisis and humanitarian suffering. Libyan people want a government; the government is here, supported by the international community and ready to go to work.
It is the only way to ensure that vital institutions, such as the central bank and the national oil company – that they fall under representative and acknowledged authority and that they receive the supervision and the direction that they need. And it is the only way to generate the unity and the cohesion that is required to defeat Daesh and other violent extremists who want to pull Libya backward into thuggery and violence and a battle over ambitions of individuals who are not serving the broad interests of Libya itself, but serving their own interests.”
16 May 2016 World Powers Seek Progress on Syria Cease-fire, Humanitarian Aid The five-year-old war in Syria is the focus of diplomats Tuesday in Vienna where the 17-nation International Syria Support Group is meeting to discuss stalled political talks, difficulties in maintaining a cease-fire deal and uneven U.N. results in delivering humanitarian aid.
The cease-fire was also meant to make it easier to get aid deliveries to Syrians who are badly in need of help, especially those in areas besieged by either rebels or government forces. But the U.N. and humanitarian groups have reported attacks on their convoys as well as thefts of supplies.
16 May 2016 Iraq Launches Western Operation Against Islamic State Iraq’s security forces have announced the start of an operation to retake control of Ar-Rutbah, a town in western Anbar province that links Islamic State-controlled areas there with the Jordanian and Syrian borders.
“You can look on a map and see the significance of that part of Anbar Province,” [said] U.S. Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook. “If the Iraqi security forces were able to secure Rutbah, it would be a significant step forward in the fight against ISIL and a significant step in terms of being able to cut off that flow from the Jordanian border from west to east towards Baghdad.”
Department of Defense
16 May 2016 Pentagon Press Secretary Discusses Strengthening Ties in Asia-Pacific, Counter-ISIL Efforts Accelerating coalition efforts to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and bolstering partnerships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Feature DoD Focus on Asia-Pacific Rebalance Defense leaders remain focused on efforts to strengthen relationships and modernize U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region as a priority for 21st century security interests and sustaining U.S. global leadership.
16 May 2016 DoD Adds Funding to Enhance Zika Surveillance by Military Labs The Defense Department is providing $1.76 million in extra funding to military laboratories to expand Zika virus surveillance worldwide and assess the virus’s impact on deployed service members’ health and readiness. The enhanced Zika virus surveillance will involve 10 projects in 18 countries and territories by four lab partners based in the United States and five located overseas.
U.S. States – Oregon
16 May 2016 Oregon: Mountain peaks, waterfalls and beach resorts Oregon, a state in the Pacific Northwest, is known for its lush forests and dramatic coastline. The state’s natural beauty is a big draw for tourists, but scenery isn’t the only local attraction.
Award-winning restaurants and annual food festivals make Oregon a top destination for gourmets. Portland has the largest number of breweries of any city in the world. And because Oregon lacks a state sales tax, shoppers can find bargains.
Crater Lake National Park, located in the Cascade Mountains in southwestern Oregon, has the deepest lake in the United States. The lake, formed 7,700 years ago when a volcano collapsed, is surrounded by Mount Mazama and towering lava cliffs.
Mount Hood reaches 3,425 meters, so it’s the highest mountain in the state. It is surrounded by the Mount Hood National Forest, located 20 miles east of Portland. The forest is among the most visited sites in the United States, drawing 4 million people annually to ski, hike and camp.
Memorial Day 2016
Coming up (30 May) : Memorial Day weekend 2016 at Cambridge American Cemetery// The Cambridge American Cemetery honours the competence, courage and sacrifice of the Americans who, as part of the ‘friendly invasion’, served in the UK during World War II. Interpretive displays, photographs, film and interactive kiosks in the extensive Visitor Center chronicle their stay.
We aim to tell the stories of the individuals buried here or memorialized on the Wall of the Missing. Staff are on hand to answer questions, give ‘flagpole’ introductions or lead tailor-made tours.
16 May 2016 Joint Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Secretary of State of the United States of America, and State Secretary for European Affairs of France The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States of America John Kerry, and State Secretary for European Affairs of France Harlem Desir, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, met today with President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to advance a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
They reiterated that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The Co-Chairs insisted on the importance of respecting the 1994 and 1995 ceasefire agreements.
The Presidents reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. To reduce the risk of further violence, they agreed to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism