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Archive for February 9, 2022

Newsline: Germany’s diplomacy pivots toward fighting climate change

Germany’s diplomatic priorities will tilt toward addressing the threat of climate change as one of the key global challenges of the 21st century, Germany’s foreign minister announced Wednesday. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, a member of the environmentalist Green Party, said Germany’s 226 diplomatic missions worldwide will become “climate embassies.” (https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/germanys-diplomacy-pivots-fighting-climate-change-82774552) This will require some “reorganization and reallocation of resources,” she said, including with the appointment of a new German climate envoy, the former Greenpeace chief Jennifer Morgan. The announcement Tuesday that Morgan would take on a senior government position prompted some grumbling in Berlin, including from opposition politicians who questioned why the American activist had been chosen for the post. Highlighting the importance of the issue in Germany’s foreign policy, Baerbock said she herself would lead Germany’s delegation to this year’s U.N. climate conference, being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

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Newsline: British envoy heads to Moscow to try to ease Ukraine crisis

Britain’s top diplomat heads to Moscow on Wednesday to try to defuse tensions raised by Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, warning that an invasion would bring “massive consequences for all involved.” “Russia has a choice here. We strongly encourage them to engage, de-escalate and choose the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said ahead of departing on the first visit to Moscow by the U.K.’s top envoy in more than four years. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/british-envoy-heads-moscow-ease-ukraine-crisis-82769477) On Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares visited Kyiv to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. Afterward, Albares reiterated that dialogue and de-escalation should be the priorities. Kuleba urged more sanctions against Russia and said “there is a chance to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means.”

Newsline: U.S. Embassy warns citizens to stay alert in UAE

The U.S. issued another warning to its citizens to remain vigilant following a series of attacks on the Gulf country. The United Arab Emirates said a gas cylinder explosion rocked the capital overnight. Civil defense teams in Abu Dhabi evacuated a building and there were no casualties, the UAE’s official news agency WAM reported, warning the public not to spread rumors. In a message issued to American citizens residing in the UAE on Wednesday, the U.S. embassy didn’t confirm what had caused the latest explosion but reiterated the advice it’s issued following previous attacks. “There are reports of a possible missile or drone strike having occurred over Abu Dhabi,” the message said. “The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to immediately follow the safety actions listed below and stay alert in case of additional future attacks.” (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/uae-blames-blast-gas-explosion-045919551.html) Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi group has claimed three missile and drone attacks on the oil exporter and Middle East business hub in recent weeks. A similar attack on the UAE this month was claimed by a separate group, which is believed by analysts to be tied to Iraq-based pro-Iranian militia. UAE authorities confirmed those earlier attacks.

Newsline: Vatican ambassador to India insists caste plays no role in bishop selection

Pope Francis’s representative to India insists that caste status plays no role in the selection of bishops in the country. In a statement sent to Crux, the Apostolic Nunciature in India said it wanted to make “clarifications” about a Feb. 2 meeting of the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) with the Apostolic Nuncio, Italian Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. (https://cruxnow.com/church-in-asia/2022/02/vatican-ambassador-to-india-insists-caste-plays-no-role-in-bishop-selection) Dalits were formerly known as “Untouchables,” the lowest level on the Hindu caste system. In India, it is common for caste discrimination to exist even in non-Hindu religions, including Christianity. The DCLM had said it was “highly disappointed” with the meeting, which touched on the situation of the Church in the jurisdictions of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, a former French colony that was taken over by India in 1954. Dalit Catholics comprise about 70 percent of the Catholics in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, but there is only one Dalit bishop now among the 18 dioceses in this region. The nunciature said it fully supported the Dalit policy issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), which states: “Caste with its consequent effects of discrimination and ‘caste mentality’ has no place in Christianity.”

Newsline: Chinese Embassy defends use of Korean dress in Olympic ceremony

The Chinese Embassy in South Korea defended the use of a Korean traditional costume in last week’s Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, after South Korean politicians and activists criticised what they called “cultural appropriation”. A woman wearing what appeared to be a Korean hanbok dress was among those representing China’s different ethnic groups during the ceremony. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Seoul released a statement saying the hanbok belongs to ethnic Koreans everywhere, including in China and on the Korean peninsula. “It is not only their wish but also their right for representatives of all ethnic groups in China to wear national costumes to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics,” the spokesperson said. “The Korean people in China and the north and south of the Korean Peninsula share the same origin and have a common traditional culture including clothing.” (https://wtvbam.com/2022/02/08/chinese-embassy-defends-use-of-korean-dress-in-olympic-ceremony/) Some South Koreans have complained about recent Chinese assertions that various aspects of Korean culture are of Chinese origin. In apparent solidarity with the complaints, the top U.S. diplomat in Seoul donned Korean hanbok clothing while touring a historic palace and shared photos on social media on Tuesday with the hashtag #OriginalHanbokFromKorea. “What comes to mind when you think of Korea? Kimchi, K-Pop, K-dramas … and of course Hanbok #OriginalHanbokFromKorea,” Chargé d’Affaires Christopher Del Corso tweeted. The U.S. Embassy did not immediately elaborate on the thinking behind Del Corso’s posts.