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UK-US Military Links Strengthened After Ministerial Visit To Washington DC

Military ties between the UK and USA have been reinforced following a visit to Washington DC by Defence Minister Mark Lancaster this week

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster

Increased co-operation between the nations was agreed in key meetings with the American Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, and Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer.

Russia, cyber warfare and the ongoing fight against Daesh were also on the agenda during discussions in Washington this week.

Minister for Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, said:

British and American personnel are standing side by side, defending our shared values around the world. We are countering Russian aggression, defeating Daesh and strengthening NATO; and our special relationship will continue to strengthen as we face these evolving threats together.

Both nations are undergoing significant upgrades in defence policy, with the UK currently consulting on its Modernising Defence Programme and the US publishing its National Defense Strategy in January. The two programmes are already closely aligned, with a strong emphasis on modernising forces to tackle the increasing shared threats faced on several fronts, while strengthening international alliances and forging new ones.

The US and UK are the two largest contributors to NATO, and among just five countries pledging at least 2% of their GDP to defence. Both countries have been calling on other nations to match this contribution, ahead of the NATO summit in July.

The UK’s defence trade partnership with the US is worth £3billion, including collaboration on several key projects such as the F-35 programme, Unmanned Air Systems and a Common Missile Compartment for UK-US Ballistic Missile Submarines.

An even closer bond is expected after Brexit, as the UK establishes new relationships and trade deals outside of Europe.

The Minister will head to the Arctic Circle this weekend to observe the annual Ice Exercise (ICEX) between the British and US navies, highlighting the capability of both nations’ submarines to operate in the most extreme conditions.

Minister for Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, added:

From partnering on the F-35 programme, to training together in Norway, our Navies and Marines continuously build capability together, and ICEX is another important opportunity for our two nations to show what we can do.

U.S. Statement To The 61st Session Of The Commission On Narcotic Drugs

Deputy Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs - Vienna, Austria

James A. Walsh

James A. Walsh

Thank you, Madam Chairman, for the opportunity to deliver remarks at the 61st session of the CND. Thank you also to the Secretariat for its tremendous work in preparing our conference. The United States expresses its appreciation for the partnership, investment, and fellowship within this body to address the complex and ever-evolving challenges presented by the world drug problem.

Now more than ever, our work in the Commission is vital to protecting the health and security of all our citizens. The world drug problem is ever-evolving and changing. Today, we are in the midst of a new drug trafficking paradigm where international criminal organizations trafficking in drugs are evading international controls by creating synthetic drugs – new psychoactive substances (or NPS) – that are mirror images of controlled substances. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Synthetics: Monitoring, Analysis, Reporting, and Trends (SMART) program March 2018 update reports that these criminal organizations are producing at least one of these new substances every week, with SMART identifying 70 new substances in 2016 alone.

In this new paradigm, traffickers are also exploiting the online market through open and dark net sites, and then trafficking these substances through the international mail and express consignment shipments. What’s more is that these substances are shipped in small quantities – a couple milligrams for example – making these packages difficult for law enforcement and regulatory officials to identify and intercept.

The dramatic increase in the misuse of synthetic drugs, particularly synthetic opioids – like carfentanil – is plaguing many of our countries. According to UNODC’s 2017 World Drug Report, opioid misuse remains high in Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe, and has been expanding in Western Europe and others parts of North America. An estimated 190,000 deaths globally are attributed to drug use disorders, mostly among people using opioids.

Fighting this plague is also exacting a grisly human toll among many of our law enforcement colleagues. In 2015 and 2016, Colombia lost 290 Ministry of Defense forces and over 3,000 wounded. 2017 was one of the bloodiest years on record in Mexico with over 29,000 murders, including many valiant members of Mexico’s security services battling transnational criminal organizations.

Clearly, this international problem requires a smart, strategic, and coordinated international response, and our decisions here at the CND matter. We must work as an international community to curb this new paradigm in drug trafficking – lives depend upon it. We must work together to identify innovative options to curb the rapid proliferation of these new synthetic drugs. Some of the most dangerous substances in this category are synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioids are fueling thousands of deaths in many of our countries because they are incredibly lethal and difficult to detect.

One of the most dangerous synthetic opioids being trafficked in international criminal markets is carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It is an elephant tranquilizer, not approved for use in humans, that has made its way into the illicit drug market, and is being used, sometimes unknowingly. To hinder criminal access to carfentanil and reduce its presence in the illicit drug market, the United States requested that it be controlled under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs – the 1961 Convention. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) reviewed this request and concluded that carfentanil should be controlled under Schedules I and IV and we urge the Commission to vote in favor of this request this week. Broader controls of synthetic drugs is one way we can work together as a community to address this problem.

The United States has also sponsored a resolution this week aimed at enhancing international cooperation to address the threats presented by synthetic drugs, particularly these deadly synthetic opioids. The resolution promotes and amplifies existing tools within UNODC and the INCB to increase information sharing and data collection and analysis that can facilitate real-time cooperation among experts in the field to disrupt the illicit supply of synthetic drugs, and the chemicals used to produce them. The information derived through these efforts can then be used by the WHO to accelerate reviews of substances for international control. Currently, the international community is controlling these substances at a rate of about ten a year. We have to do better. The ideas offered in this resolution – increased information sharing and international cooperation – present options for us to more aggressively attack this threat together. We look forward to discussing the text with you this week, and hope we can mobilize a strategic and coordinated response to this challenge.

Another option to curb this threat is to generate a better understanding of the new drug trafficking pattern whereby synthetic drugs are being sold online and trafficked through express consignment shipments and the mail. To explore this new pattern, the United States sponsored a side event on “New Methods of Synthetic Drug Trafficking” with expert panel presentations on challenges and experiences related to synthetic drugs being sold and trafficked through this method. Through this event, we highlighted the new paradigm, whereby dangerous and deadly synthetic drugs, such as carfentanil, can easily arrive anywhere with an internet connection and international delivery services. With synthetic drugs being so potent, a small amount can be easily shipped and often has higher profit margins than other narcotics.

When you combine these new modalities with a large supply of heroin being trafficked into your country by sophisticated transnational criminal organizations, along with an increase in demand fueled by an excess of prescriptions pills, you have a crisis; a crisis where thousands of my fellow Americans are dying annually. In 2016, nearly 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. Of these 64,000, over two-thirds, died from overdoses involving prescription or illicit opioids, including fentanyl. And we are not alone here.

This new trafficking pattern shows that we are all vulnerable. Anyone with an internet connection and access to international mail can be next. So the world must be vigilant and respond to this new threat. Whether it is fentanyl or tramadol, or another a new synthetic concocted by a rogue chemist, it is imperative that we work together to get ahead of this problem; we must be proactive, not reactive.

In thinking proactively, we should prioritize life-saving efforts to address this international crisis beyond the 2019 High-Level Ministerial Segment of the 62nd CND. The “beyond 2019” drug-policy trajectory must focus on this “new reality.” In the 2016 outcome document from the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), we highlighted the rapid proliferation of synthetic drugs, or NPS, as one of these new realities to be prioritized. The outcome document represents the latest international consensus that reaffirms the Commission’s primary role in international drug policy. On the road to 2019 and beyond, we want the Commission implementing the operational recommendations in the outcome document to promote a society free of drug abuse, with an acute focus on working together to address the new realities of “today’s” world drug problem.

Again, I am very excited to be here to work through these issues. Thank you.

Secretary Tillerson’s Meeting With Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:‎

Secretary Tillerson met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on March 12 in Abuja to strengthen the U.S. partnership with Nigeria. He recognized Nigeria’s leadership in the Lake Chad Basin Multinational Joint Task Force which seeks to defeat Boko Haram and the ISIS affiliate in West Africa. The Secretary expressed concern about the recent attacks and abductions and agreed to expand counterterrorism cooperation to diminish the threats to U.S. and Nigerian interests. They reviewed plans for presidential elections in 2019, and considered opportunities to promote Nigeria’s economic recovery, enhance trade, and increase investment. The Secretary encouraged political and economic reforms. He also urged full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions related to the DPRK.

U.S. Delegation To The 62nd Session Of The UN Commission On The Status Of Women

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce the U.S. Delegation attending the 62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), to be held March 12-23, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The CSW’s annual two-week session is the UN’s most important annual meeting on women’s issues. Representatives of the CSW’s 45 member governments, along with officials from other governments and participants from several thousand civil society organizations worldwide, convene to discuss ways to improve women’s lives. The theme of this year’s session is “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.”

Ambassador Nikki HaleyU.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will serve as the Head of Delegation. Ambassador Kelley E. Currie, United States Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, will serve as the Deputy Head of Delegation.

Other members of the U.S. Delegation include senior officials and technical experts from the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the United States Agency for International Development.

For more information, please visit:

Remarks At The Defeat-ISIS Coalition Communications Working Group Meeting

Irwin Steven (Steve) Goldstein

Irwin Steven (Steve) Goldstein

Good morning and thank you for that kind introduction.

Minister Burt, Coalition colleagues. It is an honor to be here this morning on behalf of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the United States government to reaffirm our commitment through this Working Group to ensure our Coalition is successful in defeating ISIS.

I would like to begin by expressing my appreciation for the efforts of Despo Michael and her team in the Strategic Communications Cell, who have done an outstanding job in organizing this meeting of the Working Group and creating an environment that will foster robust dialogue. Thank you, Despo.

I would also like to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of our other two Working Group co-leads, Daniel Kimmage and Abdulnasser Alshaali.

As the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, I am eager to work with all of you in creating real world outcomes that will change the landscape on how we counter poisonous propaganda.

Last month in Kuwait at the Defeat ISIS Ministerial, Secretary Tillerson noted just how far we have come in the fight against Daesh. Approximately 98 percent of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been liberated. Approximately 3.2 million Syrians and 4.5 million Iraqis have been freed from the tyranny, and over 3.3 million internally displaced Iraqis are now back home.

Those are impressive numbers and a testament to the vital work of the Coalition. But ISIS remains a threat. Not just to the people of Iraq and Syria, but to all of our populations as well, particularly in parts of the world where it is attempting to branch out.

One of the most pressing threats we face is that of disillusioned and desperate individuals succumbing to, and acting on, ISIS’s barbaric propaganda. As its losses on the battlefield mount, ISIS seeks to convince its followers to attack and kill civilians wherever they find them, with whatever means they have.

Many of our cities have set up barricades, increased security at events and landmarks, and warned people to remain vigilant. But in the long run, physical barriers are not going to protect us from a threat that is borderless and flows at the speed of information. We must work collectively to discredit and expose this poisonous propaganda, wherever it is found.

As a coalition, we are at a critical stage in the campaign to defeat ISIS. Even before the dust settles on the physical battlefields, ISIS and its supporters are already attempting to recast their legacy of cruelty and tyranny into one of missed opportunity – claiming that if it were not for the infidels, or if only more fighters had joined them, they could have built a utopia. We are armed with the truth, and it is the duty of the people in this room to ensure that it reaches the widest audience, in the most compelling and accessible ways.

ISIS is banking on the idea that it can sell its own narrative, even if only to a handful of uninformed individuals open to being radicalized by their version of history. Which is why it is critical that we as governments take the necessary steps to ensure that future generations are not left with questions or misunderstandings about what transpired.

They must know the stories of the Iraqis and Syrians who ISIS tortured and killed when they refused to pledge support. They must know about the cultural heritage sites, which long embodied national pride and human history, that ISIS destroyed or sold on the black market for profit. They must know about the people forced to stand in bread lines while fighters feasted at banquets.

The legacy is well known to those who have lived under its rule. It is our responsibility to ensure that others know it as well.

I have made it a priority to empower and resource the Department of State to do exactly that. We have also increased our engagement with private industry and the tech sector to ensure they remain vigilant in keeping ISIS propagandists off their platforms, as well as to partner with us in providing credible voices with the tools they need to reach the right audiences and bridge the gap between online and offline interventions.

I have sought to bring a new urgency to our interactions with companies like Google, YouTube, and Twitter, among others. While our governments have different approaches to industry outreach, we all share the same goal, and I encourage this working group to continue pushing these crucial efforts. We give credit for how far the companies have come, but there is always more to be done.

As Secretary Tillerson said in Kuwait, the fight against ISIS remains difficult and continues to evolve. This Working Group must also continue to adapt and refocus its efforts.

Thank you very much for the hard work you have already done, and will continue to do, in this fight. I encourage you to make the most of the next two days, and I look forward to working together, using our communications skills, to create a safer and more secure world, free of ISIS.

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