Thank you, Mr. President, and let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on the presidency. You wear it well, and we look forward to your leadership.
Thank you, Madam High Representative, for your comprehensive briefing.
One of the great honors and pleasures of being the U.S. permanent representative to the UN is working with nations and organizations that share our commitment to freedom, prosperity, and human dignity. We deeply appreciate the European Union and its member states’ leadership and cooperation in promoting peace, security, and human rights in Europe and around the world.
Today as we take stock of our global priorities, I am struck by how often the United States and the European Union partner to amplify each other’s important efforts.
In Syria, the European Union is a close, reliable partner as we work together to end the conflict there and address the human rights and international humanitarian law violations of the Assad regime.
The humanitarian assistance provided by the European Union and its member states in this crisis and others across the globe has been vital to relieve suffering. This support has complemented U.S. humanitarian assistance to Syria of more than $6.5 billion since the start of the crisis.
In the longer term, the European Union’s commitment to support Syria’s reconstruction once a political resolution is reached will be invaluable, not only to the Syrian people but to the region and to the world.
But to get to this point, imposing sanctions on individuals and entities connected to Syria’s chemical weapons program is necessary. The United States has sought to expand UN sanctions on known suppliers and facilitators of the Syrian chemical weapons program. We appreciate the European Union’s cooperation in levying Syria-related sanctions, but we need to do more. We call on the European Union and the UN to apply more rigorous sanctions to deny Assad and his regime the means to commit further war crimes.
Ukraine is another area in which we have worked effectively together. The European Union has played a critical role in holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine. The United States and the European Union should remain united in our resolve to keep sanctions in place until Moscow fully honors its Minsk commitments.
One of our most fruitful areas of cooperation has been in our effort to bring greater focus on the relationship between human rights and international peace and security.
We commend and share the European Union’s emphasis on accountability and its efforts to fight impunity for human rights abuses and violations. Together, we’re fighting not only to hold violators accountable but also to ensure that victims receive the proper treatment, care, and justice.
I am hopeful we will begin to see greater support from European Union member states at the Human Rights Council as we work to prevent the ongoing anti-Israel bias in that forum.
We remain deeply concerned about the migrant situation in Libya and the Central Mediterranean region. We recognize the challenges the European Union and its member states – especially Italy – are facing with the continuous flow of refugees. We commend them for their sustained efforts to counter migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
Other bright spots in our partnership are in conflict prevention, security assistance, counterterrorism, and peacebuilding.
In Africa, we commend the European Union’s missions on the ground. We also greatly appreciate its partnership with the UN and the U.S. in the nine United Nations missions in Africa, especially in Mali, Somalia, and the Central African region. The European Union’s financial contribution to the African Union forces in Somalia in particular has been central to the significant security and political progress there.
Elsewhere in the world, we look forward to additional support from European partners.
In Asia, the European Union has played a key role in support of UN efforts to create the necessary incentives for North Korea to address urgent nonproliferation and humanitarian crises and human rights violations. The only path to a secure and prosperous future for North Korea is to comply fully with all of its obligations under international law. North Korea must abandon its reckless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. We call on the European Union and all countries to exert maximal pressure on North Korea to change course.
We urge European Union member states to rigorously implement UN Security Council resolutions, impose tough, autonomous measures that go beyond the resolutions, and downgrade diplomatic and economic ties with North Korea. Stronger action on North Korea from the European Union and its member states will assist in securing peace in the region.
With respect to Iran, as well, we look forward to deepened cooperation with the European Union to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities and to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 must be fully implemented, including provisions regarding the transfer of arms and launching of ballistic missiles.
The European Union can and should do more to underscore to Iran that its destabilizing actions in the region, including support for extremist and terrorist groups, must cease.
In closing, the United States shares deep bonds of history and principle with the European Union and its member countries. We reiterate our firm commitment to working closely with you, Madam High Representative, in support of UN priorities. We look forward to continuing our valuable partnership in support of our shared values.