U.S. Policy Update for Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Secretary Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, and UN Special Envoy de Mistura Hold a News Conference After a Meeting of the International Syria Support Group in Vienna

Today’s topics:     Vienna Syria conference / DoD’s Carter on Defense Department Budget / Counterterrorism FY2017 request / International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)  / Illegal Fishing /


Syria Conference in Vienna

17 May 2016  Secretary Kerry’s Joint Press Availability With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Special Envoy Staffan de MisturaNow, let me underscore to everybody, all of the parties – some through their representatives, like the regime – but all of the parties, most importantly Russia, Iran, that have been supportive of Assad and key countries in the region who have been opposed to him, have agreed on a basic framework, which is a united Syria, nonsectarian, that is able to choose its future through a transitional governing body which is, in effect, the implementation of the Geneva process.

The challenge that we face now is to transform these possibilities into a reality of an agreement at some point. And because of the gains that we’ve made in recent months, yet because of their fragility – and we acknowledge they’re fragile – and increasingly threatened by irresponsible and dangerous actions taken by those who would rather have this effort fail, who want to create problems, because rather than solutions, they seek a different outcome.”


Department of Defense

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with an exhibitor during the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Maryland 17 May 2016 (DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)
Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with an exhibitor during the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Maryland 17 May 2016 (DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

17 May 2016   DoD’s Carter Highlights Budget Priorities, Warns of Defense Bill Veto Recommendation  Defense Secretary Ash Carter highlighted his budget priorities today while warning he would recommend a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act if it contains a “raid on war funding” that puts national security at risk.

The Defense Department’s budget request includes important investments in cutting-edge equipment and new technologies, Carter told an audience at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Maryland.

Carter said the United States is facing no fewer than five emerging challenges: Russian aggression, particularly in Europe; Chinese actions of concern, notably in the South China Sea; North Korean continued nuclear pursuits and provocations; Iranian aggression and “malign influence” in the Gulf; and terrorism and countering the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.




17 May 2016 State Dept. Bureau of Counterterrorism’s FY 2017 Request  Statement by Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Justin Siberell, Before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee: Terrorism, Nonproliferation & Trade,  Washington, DC:

As part of our overall strategy, we also believe that we must increase our focus on preventing the spread of violent extremism in the first place – to stop the radicalization, recruitment, and mobilization of people, especially young people, to engage in terrorist activities. Secretary Kerry has directed the Bureau to play the lead role in enhancing and coordinating the Department’s work on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

Mr. Chairman, we are seeking to leverage the Bureau’s tools and programs to advance the U.S. government’s foremost counterterrorism priorities and objectives: countering ISIL’s global expansion, maintaining pressure on al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, and constraining Iran’s terrorist networks, including Lebanese Hizballah. We are also focusing on building priority capabilities across key regions: countering radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism, reducing terrorist mobility and ease of travel, and preventing and mitigating terrorist attacks on soft targets.


Illegal Fishing

17 May 2016  Kerry on Port State Measures Agreement to Enter Into Force   “The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that 29 countries and the European Union have become party to the 2009 Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. With 30 parties on board, the agreement will officially enter into force on June 5, 2016, giving countries that have joined the agreement the necessary tools to prevent the offloading and sale of IUU fishing products.”


International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

LGBTI rights
LGBTI rights

17 May 2016 Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

“Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.”

17 May 2016  Secretary Kerry on Commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

“On International Day Against Homophoia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons worldwide. We celebrate the progress made to advance a world where all persons are respected and can live free from fear and discrimination. And today we reaffirm our belief all persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

The United States is unwavering in our commitment to advance full equality for LGBTI individuals everywhere. We recognize there is still much work to be done. As American civil rights leader Fredrick Douglass famously said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”


White House News

17 May 2016 President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the World Humanitarian Summit   President Obama announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Attend the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on 23-24 May  2016.


State Department

17 May 2016 United States Joins International Conference on Cybersecurity in Gaborone, Botswana