Briefing With Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Ambassador Michael Kozak Previewing

MR BROWN: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this on-the-record briefing with Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Ambassador Michael Kozak. Ambassador Kozak will discuss Secretary Pompeo’s travel to the Dominican Republic on August 16th, where he will head the U.S. delegation to the presidential inauguration of Luis Abinader. As we noted in our recent statement announcing the trip, the Dominican Republic is a key partner and ally in the Caribbean and this visit reaffirms our strong ties.

Ambassador Kozak will begin with an opening statement and then we’ll take your questions. As a reminder, the content of the briefing is embargoed until the end of the call. For efficiency’s sake, if you want to go ahead and get into the question queue, just dial 1 and 0. Thanks. And Ambassador, please go ahead.

AMBASSADOR KOZAK: Okay, thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with you all today, even if virtually, to preview Secretary Pompeo’s travel to the Dominican Republic to attend the inauguration of His Excellency Luis Abinader. Our ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Robin Bernstein, and I will accompany the Secretary to form this presidential delegation.

The Dominican Republic is a key partner and ally in the Caribbean, and Secretary Pompeo’s visit reaffirms our strong bilateral ties. It is also a symbol of the United States’s deepening relationship with our partners across the Caribbean region. Together we continue to advance our common interests in security, prosperity, development cooperation, and the promotion of democracy and human rights. As Secretary Pompeo said in Jamaica this January, the United States and Caribbean nations do much more together – can do much more together and, importantly, should do much more together. We’re natural allies and natural partners. Now it’s time to move forward with even closer ties. There is just so much opportunity.

Now, while in Santo Domingo, the Secretary will meet with President Abinader to discuss opportunities to strengthen our partnership and focus on promoting transparency, democracy, and security in the region. Together we will overcome challenges from the pandemic and revitalize our economies based on a shared vision of free markets and private-sector-led economic growth. We congratulate the president-elect and we look forward to working closely with his administration on a variety of shared priorities. We commend the Dominican people and electoral authorities for an election that was free and fair and well administered despite the COVID-19 challenges.

On August 16, Secretary Pompeo will arrive in Santo Domingo and will be greeted by Ambassador Bernstein at the airport. The delegation will then depart for the National Congress to attend the inauguration ceremony. The Secretary will meet with outgoing Dominican President Medina, who’s been a close partner of the United States during the past eight years. We thank him and wish him well in his future endeavors.

The presidential delegation will then depart for the First Cathedral of the Americas to participate in the Te Deum Mass. From the cathedral we will depart for the National Palace for the inauguration lunch. The Secretary will meet there with President Abinader and with Foreign Minister Alvarez. The Secretary will also take the opportunity to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, and the Secretary will meet finally with Haitian President Moise to discuss the need for Haiti to schedule its overdue legislative elections, to form a provisional electoral commission, and to strengthen support for upholding the rule of law in Haiti. The inauguration of President Abinader is a fitting occasion to reaffirm our shared commitment to upholding democracy in our hemisphere of freedom.

The presidential delegation will then conclude its trip to the Dominican Republic by departing for Las Americas International Airport and will return to Andrews Air Force Base. Due to the COVID-19 situation in the Dominican Republic, we are working closely with the Dominican Government to ensure that the presidential delegation abides by carefully planned infection control measures.

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