SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you as well, Ayman, and we have developed quite a friendship over this past year. When you confront so many serious issues, it’s important to have trusted partners that you can consult with, and I value our discussions greatly.
“The Assad regime has become a front for Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies to advance the irresponsible and dangerous agenda for the Middle East. On every front of this conflict, we find fighters imported by Iran from Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When we see the Assad regime starving civilians in eastern Ghouta or pummeling schools and hospitals in Idlib, we see advisers from Iran and Hezbollah helping direct those atrocities. This support for the Assad regime is not new, of course. But the drone flight this week is a wake-up call for all of us. Iran and Hezbollah are making plans to stay in Syria.”
Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will travel to Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia, and Belgium from February 15-24.
The Deputy Secretary will arrive in Munich on February 16 to lead the State Department delegation to the Munich Security Conference. He will participate in a nuclear security and arms control panel discussion with foreign government officials and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to global nuclear security.
We support the decision of Peru, as the host of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to withdraw its invitation to President Maduro of Venezuela. Peru’s decision was made with the support of the Lima Group, which upheld the high democratic standard for Summit participation.
We, the Foreign Ministers and principals of the Global Coalition, have come together in Kuwait City united in our determination to defeat ISIS/Da’esh through a focused, sustained, multifaceted effort. We know our enemy: ISIS/Da’esh is intrinsically malevolent, celebrates cruelty, systematically violates international law and regularly commits gross abuses of human rights. Yet three and a half years into this effort, ISIS/Da’esh stands undeniably degraded – it has lost its territorial hold in Iraq and only a few pockets of land remain under its control in Syria. Its leadership, on-line presence and global networks are under pressure.
Yesterday marked the somber third anniversary of the signing of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Sadly, Russia continues to disregard its commitments under the Minsk agreements, stoking a hot conflict in Ukraine that has cost over 10,000 lives, including more than 2,500 civilians, and has displaced 1.6 million Ukrainians.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: (In progress) …on behalf of Iraq. And finally, I want to thank the World Bank, and international finance corporation, for supporting this conference. With the support of the United States and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Iraq has bravely fought and successfully liberated its territory from ISIS. Four and a half million Iraqis have been free from tyranny. Over 3.2 million internally displaced Iraqis are now at home or on their way back home. And the Iraqi Government is reasserting control of the Iraq-Syria border. As we celebrate these victories over extremism and hatred, we know they were hard-won, and they came at a very high price. Much work remains to rebuild Iraq and modernize its economy. Helping Iraq create a government that is inclusive, accountable and transparent will build a society that can counter the extremist ideologies. This will deal ISIS its final blow and demonstrate its failed, violent ideology.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, the U.S.-Kuwait relationship is very strong. We have so many shared interests in terms of security for the region. We spoke about the importance of GCC unity and GCC unity supporting security for the region as well. And we also talked about important opportunities for economic relationships as well.
Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered remarks at a UN Security Council briefing on Burma.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Thank you. I just want to say again that it’s a pleasure to be back in Kuwait today. And first, I want to thank his highness the emir for bringing us all together here in Kuwait (inaudible) in the region. Kuwait has long been a critical partner for regional security and their willingness to host today’s Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ministerial, as well as the Iraq Reconstruction Conference, is a reflection on their leadership on these very important issues.