SECRETARY TILLERSON: (Applause.) Thank you so much, Chief, and it is a pleasure to be here, and good evening to all of you, and I want to welcome myself and I want to welcome you to Fairbanks as well. (Laughter.)
I welcome President Trump’s announcement of his intention to nominate Mark Andrew Green as the new Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili signed a U.S.-Georgia General Security of Information Agreement (GSOIA) this morning at the U.S. Department of State.
MS NAUERT: Thank you so much. Well, good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us today for the call on Nigeria. We’re joined by Nathan Holt, the deputy director of the Office of West African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
Secretary Tillerson met with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and reaffirmed the strong relationship between our two countries. During their meeting, the leaders emphasized their mutual commitment to work toward a stronger partnership and a more secure region.
MS NAUERT: All right, thank you so much. Well, good afternoon, every one, and thank you for joining us for the call today. We’re previewing this week’s Arctic Council ministerial. Today we are joined by the phone from Alaska by Deputy Assistant Secretary David Balton of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, May 10, to discuss Ukraine, Syria, and bilateral issues. On Ukraine, the sides will discuss the need to stop the violence in eastern Ukraine and resolve the conflict through the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
The Secretary of State spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov today about the efforts to de-escalate the ongoing conflict in Syria. The Secretary looks forward to further meetings with the Foreign Minister to discuss the respective roles of the United States and Russia in de-escalating the conflict and supporting the talks in Geneva to move the political solution forward.
Russia, Turkey, and Iran, at the conference in Astana, announced agreement today on an effort to reduce the violence in certain areas of Syria. The United States was represented at the Astana conference by Acting Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones. We were not a direct participant in the negotiations and are not, at this point, a party to the agreement.
The United States notes with deep concern the death of Azerbaijani blogger and activist Mehman Galandarov on April 28 while in the custody of Azerbaijani authorities. We urge the Government of Azerbaijan to conduct a full, transparent, and independent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Galandarov’s death and to release all activists in Azerbaijan incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms.