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Archive for February 23, 2022

Newsline: Iran’s top diplomat says nuclear talks at ‘critical’ stage

Negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal have entered a “critical” stage during which some key issues still need to be resolved, Tehran’s top diplomat said on Wednesday. The 2015 accord had offered Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, but the US unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump. Western powers that have been locked in nuclear talks with Iran have said in the past week that a deal was within reach while stressing the ball was in the Islamic republic’s court. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Wednesday that the negotiations had “reached a critical and important stage”. “We hope that some sensitive and important issues remaining in the negotiations will be resolved in the coming days with realism from the Western side,” he said at a joint press conference with his Oman counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-nuclear-talks-critical-125550973.html) Amir-Abdollahian said he was “optimistic” about a deal, while insisting Iran would not give up its “red lines” in the negotiations. He did not elaborate. The Vienna talks, which involve Iran as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly, and the United States indirectly, resumed in November. In recent days, progress in the negotiations has been reported by France, Germany, the United States and even Iran.

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Newsline: Japan, China spar over Japan diplomat’s detention in Beijing

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it has lodged a strong protest and demanded an apology after its diplomat was detained and questioned by authorities in Beijing. The diplomat from the Japanese Embassy was seized while on duty and held for several hours on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said. The diplomat was carrying out his legitimate work and the detention violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulates the immunity of diplomats from civil and criminal jurisdiction of the host nation, the ministry said. The diplomat, whose name and other details were not disclosed, was released later Monday, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. There was no sign the diplomat was physically abused while he was being interrogated, the official said. Vice Foreign Minister Takeshi Mori on Tuesday summoned Yang Yu, charge d’affaires and China’s interim ambassador in Tokyo, demanding China offer an apology and avoid such situations in the future. In Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters that “China has made a stern complaint with Japan, urging it to respect China’s law, strictly restrain its consular staff in China and prevent such incidents from happening again.” He said the Japanese diplomat had engaged in activities “inconsistent with their capacity in China” and that the relevant Chinese departments conducted investigations and questioning “in accordance with the law and regulation.” (https://news.yahoo.com/japan-china-spar-over-japan-120253734.html) No other details were provided.

Newsline: Russia evacuates diplomats from Ukraine, takes down mission flags

Russia has started evacuating diplomatic staff from all of its missions in Ukraine, TASS news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a representative of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv. The embassy as well as the consulate general in Odessa were seen on Wednesday with Russian flags taken down. “Several cars left the territory of the consulate in the morning,” a member of the Ukrainian National Guard who was on duty near the Russian consulate in Odessa told Reuters. Russia’s foreign ministry announced an evacuation of diplomatic staff from Ukraine for what it called safety reasons on Tuesday, a day after President Vladimir Putin recognised independence of two breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east and ordered Russian troops “to keep peace” there, while massing military along Ukrainian borders. Last week a video showing smoke rising from the Russian Embassy’s chimney circulated online. An employee said that staff had burnt documents before departure, TASS quoted him as saying on Wednesday. “This is an ordinary procedure. In cases like we have now there is a set of measures that should be taken for security reasons,” the employee said, according to TASS. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-evacuates-diplomats-ukraine-takes-144341910.html) Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry requested President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to break off diplomatic ties with Russia in response the recognition of independence of separatist-held regions.

Newsline: Kenyan UN ambassador pleas for peace in Ukraine crisis

Ambassador Martin Kimani, who represents Kenya on the United Nations Security Council, offered a powerful plea for peace on Tuesday after Russia announced it would recognize and deploy troops to breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. “Kenya and almost every African country was birthed by the ending of empire. Our borders were not of our own drawing. They were drawn in the distant colonial metropoles of London, Paris, and Lisbon with no regard for the ancient nations that they cleaved apart,” Ambassador Kimani said. “Today, across the border of every single African country live our countrymen, with whom we share deep historical, cultural, and linguistic bonds. At independence, had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial, or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later,” he said. “We chose to follow the rules of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Charter, not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater, forged in peace. We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression,” Ambassador Kimani said.

Newsline: New Zealand summons Russian Ambassador over Ukraine

New Zealand’s government summoned Russian Ambassador Georgii Zuev to meet Wednesday with top diplomatic officials who are urging Russia to return to diplomatic negotiations over Ukraine. Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is currently out of the country but said in a statement that the ambassador was called in “to hear New Zealand’s strong opposition to the actions taken by Russia in recent days, and condemn what looks to be the beginning of a Russian invasion into Ukraine territory.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-latest-australia-announces-more-sanctions-on-russia/2022/02/23/a025e778-9484-11ec-bb31-74fc06c0a3a5_story.html) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to The Associated Press that the meeting had taken place but declined to provide any further details.

Newsline: Russian, Ukrainian, French, UK embassies turn to Chinese Twitter-like Weibo for statements on Ukraine

With the sudden announcement of Russia recognizing “the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR)” and “the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)” as independent and sovereign states, the Ukraine Embassy to China released a statement concerning the issue in Chinese, bringing the issue to a top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. Ukraine Embassy’s remarks were followed by statements from a number of other embassies including Russia, France and the UK. Chinese netizens were fascinated and said they couldn’t believe Weibo has become a platform of court hearings for international affairs. The Ukrainian Embassy to China said in a statement on Weibo that Ukraine condemns Russia’s recognition of the independence of the LPR and DPR, calling it a serious violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Following Ukraine’s statement, the embassy of Russia in China posted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the Executive Orders on the Recognition of “DPR” and “LPR,” and inked Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between Russia and the two parties. (https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202202/1252915.shtml) Following the announcements, a number of embassies of European countries in China, including France and the UK, also issued statements on Weibo calling for emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and the sanctions and reactions toward Russia.