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Archive for February 3, 2022

Newsline: Afghanistan embassy in Russia says no need for new Taliban employees

The Embassy of Afghanistan in Moscow is operating as usual and sees no need for additional employees from among Taliban members, the mission told TASS. “Currently, the embassy in Moscow is operating as usual. All embassy divisions (political, economic, cultural, and consular) operate on the full staff of experienced diplomats and specialists, like before. There is no need for Taliban employees, especially considering that the Taliban does not have professional diplomats,” the embassy press service said. (https://tass.com/world/1396009) The embassy added that it continues to provide services to Afghan citizens, the Afghan diaspora, and students studying in Russia. Earlier, Russian Special Presidential Envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov stated that Kabul may send a number of diplomatic employees in order to reinforce its Moscow mission staff.

Newsline: Brother of Canadian embassy worker in Kabul killed in Afghanistan

A former employee of Canada’s embassy in Kabul who made it safely to this country in August says his brother, whom he wanted to bring here as well, has been killed in Afghanistan. The embassy employee said he was evacuated to Canada through the special immigration program set up for those who had assisted the Canadian government in Afghanistan. The program covered family members as well, but he was unable to bring his family with him to Canada because their paperwork was incomplete. He said he found out last week that one of his brothers had been killed. (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-brother-of-canadian-embassy-worker-in-kabul-staff-killed-in/) The Globe and Mail is not identifying the former employee because he fears for his family’s safety in Afghanistan. He said his brother had been missing for more than a month and that another, older brother found him by sifting through countless frozen bodies at a hospital. Hospital staff told his brother that many of the dead came from a Taliban prison, he said, adding that he is 90-per-cent sure the Taliban killed him.

Newsline: Myanmar foreign minister barred from ASEAN meeting

Myanmar’s junta suffered a fresh diplomatic blow Thursday as regional bloc ASEAN barred its top diplomat from attending an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers. Cambodia, which currently holds the bloc’s rotating chairmanship, said there had been too little progress on a “five-point consensus” agreed by leaders last year to try to defuse the crisis gripping Myanmar. The country has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government a year ago, with more than 1,500 civilians since killed in crackdowns on anti-junta protests, according to a local monitoring group. “Since there has been little progress in carrying out ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, the ASEAN member states did not reach a consensus to invite Myanmar SAC’s foreign minister [Wunna Maung Lwin] to participate in the upcoming foreign ministers’ retreat,” Cambodia foreign ministry spokesman Chum Sounry told AFP. Myanmar’s military government calls itself the State Administration Council, or SAC. “We have asked Myanmar to send a non-political representative instead,” Chum Sounry said. (https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/world/myanmar-foreign-minister-barred-from-asean-meet-cambodia/ar-AATqhpV) The snub comes after the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took the unprecedented step of barring junta leader Min Aung Hlaing from a summit in October. It represented a rare rebuke from ASEAN, long seen as a toothless talking shop, but which has sought to lead diplomatic efforts to tackle the Myanmar crisis.

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Newsline: Top India diplomat to boycott Beijing Games over torchbearer

India’s top diplomat in Beijing will skip the Winter Games after a Chinese soldier involved in a deadly Himalayan skirmish took part in the Olympic torch relay, officials said Thursday. (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/top-india-diplomat-to-boycott-beijing-games-over-torchbearer/ar-AATr0x3) Qi Fabao, a regiment commander for the People’s Liberation Army, was among the troops present in 2020 during a high-altitude clash in the Galwan Valley, which is disputed between the world’s two most populous nations. On Wednesday he was revealed as one of 1,200 torchbearers for the Games by Chinese state media, which feted him as a “hero”. But his inclusion provoked consternation in India, and the foreign ministry said its senior representative at the Beijing embassy would sit out the opening and closing ceremonies as a result. “It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics,” ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told a press briefing. The Galwan Valley battle saw troops locked in hand-to-hand combat that left at least 20 Indians and four Chinese soldiers dead — though it took Beijing eight months to acknowledge the casualties on its own side. Qi was wounded in the incident but appeared on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV at the end of last year and said he was “ready to return to the battlefield and fight again”. The Winter Olympics open on Friday but have been dogged by politics and Covid-19 fears.

Newsline: U.S. diplomats possibly affected by electromagnetic energy seen as ‘plausible’ cause for ‘Havana Syndrome’

An external energy source plausibly could be the cause for a series of disorienting and sometimes debilitating symptoms experienced by U.S. diplomats and other government personnel, a panel of experts announced Wednesday. In a report released Wednesday, the expert panel, convened by U.S. intelligence agencies said the symptoms described in these Anomalous Health Incidents, also known as “Havana Syndrome,” are common in known medical conditions. But the combination of “four core characteristics” is unique and make it unlikely to be caused by a neurological disorder, the report said. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/02/02/electromagnetic-energy-cause-havana-syndrome/6111643839637/) The panel, composed of experts from within and outside the U.S. government with backgrounds in in science, medicine and engineering, was tasked with examining the cases dating to 2016 that have affected personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, followed by reports from personnel in China and eventually hundreds of people at official posts throughout the world. In its examination, the panel examined four “core characteristics” of symptoms that “were particularly difficult to explain through other means” such as sound or pressure in the ears, “nearly simultaneous” symptoms including vertigo, loss of balance and ear pain, “a strong sense of locality or directionality” among those symptoms, and absence of known environmental or medical conditions that may have caused the symptoms. Additionally, the panel examined the plausibility of five “potential causal mechanisms” for the symptoms, including acoustic signals, chemical and biological agents, ionizing radiation, natural and environmental factors and radio frequency and other electromagnetic energy. Pulsed electromagnetic energy “plausibly explains the core characteristics,” according to the panel’s findings.

Newsline: Ireland’s Embassies and Consulates celebrate 100 years of Ulysses

The 2nd of February 2022 marked one hundred years since the publication of the modernist masterpiece Ulysses by James Joyce. Building on successful global Bloomsday initiatives in 2020 and 2021, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ireland’s global diplomatic network will mark the centenary of Joyce’s ground-breaking work throughout 2022 with a extensive programme of events worldwide. Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “As this ground-breaking masterpiece is celebrated worldwide, our network of Embassies and Consulates are proud to partner with leading cultural institutions on a rich global programme, ranging from exhibitions and publications to commissioned artworks, performances and readings.” Some of the events taking place reflect the connections the book has created with other countries. This year Ireland and France jointly celebrate the centenary of the publication of Ulysses in Paris as a pivotal moment in Irish, French and European modernism; the Centre Culturel Irlandais is presenting a five-month centenary season, alongside special initiatives by the Irish Embassy in Paris. In the novel, Leopold Bloom’s father hails from the Hungarian city of Szombathely, which will host a three-day Joyce festival. The Irish Embassy in Budapest is also partnering with the Hungarian James Joyce Society on a year-long programme. Ireland’s Embassy and Consulates in the US are partnering with major institutions on flagship Joycean projects, including the Morgan Library in New York, the Rosenbach Library in Philadelphia, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Buffalo.