Wed, 18 May 2022

State Department Recap: January 13-19, 2022

Voice of America
20 Jan 2022, 09:35 GMT+10

STATE DEPARTMENT - Here's a look at what U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top diplomats have been doing this week:

US, Russia, Ukraine

The United States will continue relentless diplomatic efforts to prevent Russia from further military aggression against Ukraine while providing defensive security assistance to Kyiv, Blinken said Wednesday.

'We've offered Russia a clear choice, a choice between pursuing dialogue and diplomacy on the one hand or confrontation and consequences on the other hand,' Blinken told VOA in an interview.

Standing with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a press conference, Blinken added that U.S. security assistance deliveries to Ukraine were ongoing and that more were scheduled 'in the coming weeks.'

VOA Interview: Blinken Warns Russia of Action Should Moscow Invade Ukraine

After Ukraine, Blinken heads to Berlin on Thursday and then to Geneva, where he will hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday. Blinken will urge Russia to 'take immediate steps to de-escalate' tensions along its border with Ukraine. The hastily arranged trip for the top U.S. diplomat comes one week after U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva reached an impasse.

Blinken, Lavrov to Meet in Geneva Friday to Continue Diplomacy Over Ukraine

US-North Korea

In response to North Korea's recent missile launches, the United States called on Pyongyang to 'cease its unlawful and destabilizing activities.'

In a call with South Korean and Japanese officials, Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, 'expressed concern' about the missile launches and urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue 'without preconditions.'

North Korea's launch on Monday, which South Korea said involved short-range ballistic missiles, marked North Korea's fourth weapons test this month as Pyongyang flexes its military muscle while ignoring the United States' offers of talks.

North Korea Confirms Latest Missile Test

US-Iran

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley will meet with Barry Rosen, an American who was taken hostage in Iran in 1979, while giving 'full attention' to and seeking the release of all wrongfully detained American citizens in Iran, a State Department spokesperson told VOA.

Rosen began a hunger strike in Vienna on Wednesday to press U.S. and Iranian officials to come to an agreement about the release of Americans and other Westerners of Iranian origin jailed by Tehran. He hopes the move will help to break a monthslong stalemate in indirect talks between the two sides.

Former US Hostage in Iran to Begin Hunger Strike to Press for Prisoner Deal

Humanitarian assistance to Afghans

The United States said it would continue to support the people of Afghanistan, as Washington delivers more doses of COVID-19 vaccine and provides humanitarian funds.

He highlighted the United States' latest contribution of more than $308 million toward humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people during a virtual meeting with U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths. The U.N. said it is 'in a race against time' to prevent millions of Afghans from falling deeper into a severe economic and humanitarian crisis.

UN Chief: 'Race Against Time' to Save Afghan Economy

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