The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will advance off-grid energy solutions in sub-Saharan Africa through several new awards announced today at the Unlocking Solar Capital: Africa Conference in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The awards provide capital to companies engaged in household solar-systems and micro-grids to expand operations, scale innovations, test new business models, and finance new rural-electrification connections to millions of people.
India and the United States have had close relations now for more than 70 years and we are natural allies, in the words of Prime Minister Modi. We are grateful for his friendship and his vision of a closer U.S.-India relationship and a vision we certainly share. The United States supports India’s emergence as a leading power and will continue to contribute to Indian capabilities to provide security throughout the region. In this regard, we are willing and able to provide India advanced technologies for its military modernization efforts. This includes ambitious offers from American industry for F-16 and F-18 fighter planes. I’m grateful to my friend and colleague, Secretary of Defense Mattis, that he was able to visit India last month, and he and I both look forward to the inaugural 2+2 dialogue early next year.
The United States is deeply concerned about rising levels of violence and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in Togo related to protests over proposed constitutional reforms. We are particularly troubled by reports of excessive use of force by security forces and reports that Government-sponsored vigilantes are using force and the threat of force to disrupt protests and intimidate civilians.
Russia has once again demonstrated it will do whatever it takes to ensure the barbaric Assad regime never faces consequences for its continued use of chemicals as weapons.
The United States and Ukraine held a Nonproliferation Working Group Meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 24. The regularly-held meeting is one of several exchanges the United States and Ukraine hold each year to strengthen bilateral cooperation to address the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, advanced conventional weapons, and sensitive dual-use technologies.
Based on Section 6(a) of Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the U.S. government undertook a 120-day review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to identify and implement additional security screening processes in order to uphold the safety of the American people.
I think some of the conclusions – one, that we are dealing with a transregional threat, and it’s going to require more effective collective action by nations that are affected. You know, one of the anecdotes is that in Syria and Iraq we saw as many as 40,000 foreign fighters from 120 different countries, which gives you some sense of the range of ISIS’s challenge. Although today primarily we spoke about ISIS because we view them today as the most virulent strain of violent extremism, we really are talking about a military network that we expect to be enduring to deal with all forms of violent extremism – ISIS and al-Qaida – (inaudible) – any transregional threats.
The Central Asia Trade Forum, a USAID-funded project, took place in Kazakhstan on October 18th and 19th. This year’s forum saw a new record for participation with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, industry leaders, donors, and government officials from 15 countries in South Central Asia, including Afghanistan and other countries as well.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on [[[eight individuals and one entity]]] today, targeting leaders, financiers, and facilitators of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Yemen (ISIS-Y) and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). [[[This action was taken in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the co-chair of the recently established Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), as well as all other TFTC member states: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.]]] Today’s collective actions are the first taken by the TFTC since its announcement during President Trump’s visit to the region in May.
Well, I want to start by thanking President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah and the Afghanistan leadership for meeting with me this morning. I thought it was very important to stop here in Afghanistan coming to the South Asia region as part of the recently announced South Asia policy and strategy that President Trump has put forth.