Pence reaffirmed U.S. support for "people of faith in China" regardless of the outcome of U.S.-China trade negotiations. He also stated the administration's support for religious freedom in North Korea while talks continue on the country's denuclearization.
Certain countries actively suppressed or tried to intimidate attendees of the Ministerial, Pompeo said. Cuba prevented four Evangelical pastors from attending the Ministerial, and China tried to intimidate delegations from other countries into not attending.
"If you're here today and you're a country which has defied the Chinese pressure to come here, we salute you and we thank you," Pompeo said.
The Secretary of State urged those in attendance to attend regional roundtables and conferences on religious freedom to be held in Albania, Columbia, Morocco, and the Vatican.
August 22 will be the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly and "thanks to Poland's efforts," Pompeo said.
Both Secretary Pompeo and Vice President Pence announced funding for victims of religious persecution and actions the U.S. has taken to punish human rights abusers.
This week, the U.S. sanctioned four military officials in Burma, including two high-ranking leaders, and also placed additional sanctions on two leaders of Iranian-backed militias in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq, Pence said. Iranian-backed militias are harassing Christians in the Ninewa Plain as they return home from the ISIS genocide, and have posed some of the greatest security threats in the region to Christian minorities.
Meanwhile, the State Department "trained nearly 12,000 employees on how to identify religious discrimination and persecution and how to work closely with faith leaders all across the world," Pompeo said. a 2016 law authored by Rep. Smith, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, required training on international religious freedom for all foreign service officers.
In addition, the agency established an International Religious Freedom Fund for victims of persecution; the fund has helped with the medical bills of some of the survivors of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, which targeted churches and hotels on the holiest weekend of the year for Christians, Pompeo said.
In addition, over $340 million in U.S. assistance has supported "vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq, particularly those that ISIS had targeted for genocide," he said.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.