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Archive for February 15, 2022

Newsline: Afghan Diplomats Seek Permission to Remain in U.S.

Already reeling from a Taliban takeover of their government and a humanitarian disaster in their homeland, Afghan diplomats in the United States are grappling with another bleak reality: the loss of pay and the possibility of being deported. Several dozen diplomats assigned to Afghanistan’s embassy in Washington and consulates in New York and Los Angeles have not been paid since October, officials said, when American banks froze accounts to prevent the Taliban from gaining access to the embassy’s funds. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/13/us/politics/afghan-embassy-diplomats-taliban.html) But the envoys, who were part of the American-backed government that was overthrown in August, are keeping the embassy open — continuing diplomatic work but also preserving the diplomatic status that allows them to remain in the United States. Should the embassy close before they are granted asylum or other legal residency, the diplomats could find themselves stateless and without the permits needed to get a job. Around the world, Afghan diplomats continue to carry out their duties independent of the leadership in Kabul. Many have criticized the new government as “illegitimate” and still fly the internationally accepted flag of Afghanistan over their embassies instead of the Taliban’s banner. Others have lobbied their host nations against unconditionally recognizing the Taliban’s authority. Yet the situation is taking a toll on diplomats who are also still coming to grips with representing an elected government that has ceased to exist. Some have no health insurance and are racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills. In France, diplomats have moved into the embassy compound to avoid paying rent on private apartments, according to two former Afghan diplomats.

Newsline: US Embassy in Kyiv destroyed green cards, other documents

The U.S. drawdown of its embassy in Kyiv has included the destruction of some immigration and travel documents as part of protocol to protect sensitive information, according to notes from a phone call between the Biden administration and Congress and shared with The Hill. (https://thehill.com/policy/international/594193-us-embassy-in-kyiv-destroy-documents-as-drawdown-underway) Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Monday that the U.S. would shutter its embassy in Kyiv amid threats of a Russian invasion into Ukraine that officials warn could be launched at any time. The document destruction was discussed in a call on Feb. 12 between Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), notes of which were provided to congressional staff and obtained by The Hill. The documents being destroyed include green card and non-processed passport documents.

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Newsline: Vigils planned at Canadian embassies in US to protest imprisonment of pastor who preached to Freedom Convoy

Supporters of a Canadian pastor who has spent the past week in a maximum-security Calgary prison after speaking to members of the Freedom Convoy have organized vigils at various Canadian consulates in the United States to protest his treatment Tuesday. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/canadian-pastor-imprisoned-freedom-convoy-vigils-canadian-embassies-us) Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who remains in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day at the Calgary Remand Centre, according to his lawyer, was arrested last Monday after he spoke to members of the trucker blockade along the U.S.-Canada border in Coutts, Alberta, on Feb. 4. During a 20-minute speech to the truckers, the pastor urged them to “hold the line” against government overreach without resorting to violence. They had reportedly reached an agreement to abandon their blockade of the U.S. border and travel to Edmonton until changing their minds following Pawlowski’s address.

Newsline: Indian embassy in Kyiv asks citizens to leave Ukraine

The Indian Embassy in Ukraine capital Kyiv on Tuesday asked its nationals, particularly students whose stay is not essential, to leave the country temporarily “in view of uncertainties of the current situation”. Embassy of India in Kyiv asks Indians, particularly students whose stay is not essential, to leave Ukraine temporarily in view of uncertainties of the current situation pic.twitter.com/U15EoGu89g (@ANI) February 15, 2022 (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/indian-embassy-in-kyiv-asks-citizens-to-leave-ukraine-amid-rising-tensions-with-russia/ar-AATRBaz) Meanwhile, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has spoken to the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, expressing “serious concern” over the heightened tensions between the countries and sought for diplomacy to defuse those tensions.

Newsline: U.S. moving Ukraine embassy from Kyiv to Lviv

The United States is relocating its Ukraine embassy operations from the capital Kyiv to the western city of Lviv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, citing a “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.” Blinken said in a statement that the decision to move the embassy operations to Lviv – roughly 50 miles (80 km) from Ukraine’s western border with Poland – was taken out of concern for the safety of the staff. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-moving-remaining-ukraine-embassy-191201474.html) Most embassy staff have already been ordered to depart Ukraine and U.S. citizens have been advised to leave the country by commercial means. Blinken said that relocating the embassy operations “in no way” undermined U.S. support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and that U.S. diplomats would “remain engaged” with the Ukrainian government.

Newsline: Myanmar says it won’t attend ASEAN foreign ministers meeting

Myanmar will not participate in this week’s meetings in Cambodia of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, spurning an invitation to send a non-political representative instead of its chief diplomat, its government said. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/myanmar-attend-asean-foreign-ministers-meeting-82880727) Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, said earlier this month that members of the regional group had failed to reach a consensus on inviting Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin to its meetings on Thursday and Friday in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Wunna Maung Lwin was appointed foreign minister after the military seized power in Myanmar last year, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The decision to restrict Myanmar’s participation reflected a disagreement over Myanmar’s lack of cooperation in implementing measures agreed upon by the 10-member group last year to help ease that country’s violent political crisis following the army’s takeover.