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Archive for March 4, 2022

Newsline: UK envoy says near Iran nuclear deal

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are close to reaching an agreement, the chief British envoy said on Friday as she and her French and German colleagues flew home to brief ministers. “We are close. E3 negotiators leaving Vienna briefly to update Ministers on state of play. Ready to return soon,” Stephanie Al-Qaq said on Twitter, referring to the chief British, French and German diplomats involved in the talks. (https://news.yahoo.com/close-uk-envoy-iran-nuclear-161633009.html) The Europeans’ departure raised the possibility that the United States and Iran, which have talking indirectly because Tehran refuses to meet face to face, might be preparing to sit down together though diplomats said there were no such plans. “As far as I know, the Iranians are not ready for direct talks,” Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters. “We will have a deal maybe in the middle of next week. We are talking about the last efforts before crossing the finish line.” Negotiators have worked for 11 months to try to revive the 2015 deal under which Iran limited its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain fissile material for a bomb – an ambition Tehran denies – in return for relief from economic sanctions. Western powers and Russia have for almost a year worked closely to revive the accord but the war in Ukraine is creating a sense of urgency to conclude talks before cooperation becomes more difficult.

Newsline: U.S. ambassador calls Russian attack of Ukrainian nuclear power plant ‘reckless and dangerous’

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Friday condemned Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine as “reckless and dangerous,” calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops from the plant and cease his military attack on Ukraine. “Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe,” Thomas-Greenfield said during an emergency U.N. security council meeting Friday. “Nuclear facilities cannot become part of this conflict.” (https://news.yahoo.com/us-calls-russian-attack-ukrainian-175139359.html) Her comments came hours after a firefight near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant raised concerns about a possible nuclear incident. The plant came under shelling from Russian troops and a fire broke out on the site. Russian troops are currently occupying the plant. Thomas-Greenfield on Friday demanded that Russia withdraw troops from the plant “to permit medical treatment for injured personnel, to ensure operators have full access to the site and are able to communicate with nuclear regulators, and to allow the operators to conduct shift changes to ensure the continued safe operation of the plant.” She also called for Ukrainian firefighters and nuclear engineers to have full access to the facility to conduct an assessment of any damage.

Newsline: Two men arrested on weapons charges near Ukrainian Embassy in Washington

The Secret Service arrested two men on weapons charges near the Ukrainian embassy in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. Officers saw the two individuals “acting suspiciously near a vehicle in the area of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW,” which is just a few blocks from the Ukrainian Embassy, a spokesperson for the Secret Service told Fox News Digital. (https://news.yahoo.com/secret-arrests-two-men-weapons-011216419.html) The two men told officers that they drove from Indiana to volunteer to fight in the war in Ukraine, according to the Washington Post. One of the individuals was arrested for possession of a prohibited weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, unlawful transportation of a firearm, unregistered ammunition, unregistered firearm, and carrying a firearm without a license, while the other was arrested for possession of a prohibited weapon and carrying a dangerous weapon.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Ukraine calls nuclear power plant attack ‘war crime’

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said that attacking a nuclear power plant is a war crime on Friday after Russia seized a Ukrainian nuclear facility that is the biggest in Europe. The statement on the embassy’s Twitter account went further than any U.S. characterization of Russia’s actions in Ukraine since it launched its invasion on Feb. 24. “It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” U.S. Embassy Kyiv said in its post. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-embassy-ukraine-calls-nuclear-142332204.html) Russian invasion forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant on Friday in heavy fighting in southeastern Ukraine, triggering global alarm, but a huge blaze in a training building has been extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe.

Newsline: U.S. Diplomat Apologizes to 12,000 Afghans Stranded in UAE After Taliban Takeover

A U.S. diplomat has formally apologized for thousands of stranded Afghan citizens in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after promising to grant them refugee status. The official, who has not been publicly identified for confidentiality reasons, vowed that the United States will try and expedite them for visas as quickly as possible. However, they did acknowledge some potential setbacks, such as the sheer number of those waiting to get approved. “I told them that I was really sorry it was taking so long and I was as frustrated as they were, frankly,” the official said. “But I also asked for their understanding of how hard we’ve been working to get the systems going.” (https://www.newsweek.com/us-diplomat-apologizes-12000-afghans-stranded-after-taliban-takeover-1684908) However, some people, those waiting on visas and those trying to help them, are tired of waiting after months of uncertainty.

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Newsline: New Indian ambassador to China arrives in Beijing undergoing mandatory COVID-19 quarantine

India’s new ambassador to China Pradeep Kumar Rawat has arrived in the country and is undergoing mandatory quarantine for the COVID-19, the Indian embassy here said on Friday. “Ambassador-designate Shri Pradeep Kumar Rawat has reached China and is currently undergoing mandatory quarantine,” the embassy said in a tweet on Friday. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/new-indian-ambassador-to-china-arrives-in-beijing-undergoing-mandatory-covid-19-quarantine/ar-AAUB1IS) Rawat succeeds Vikram Misri. An Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1990 batch, Rawat was previously India’s ambassador to the Netherlands. Rawat’s appointment comes in the midst of the lingering eastern Ladakh border standoff. He has earlier served in Hong Kong and Beijing. Rawat served as the ambassador of India to Indonesia and Timor-Leste from September 2017-December 2020. He speaks fluent Mandarin.

Newsline: U.S. boosts embassy personnel in Cuba

The United States announced it will increase its staff at its embassy in Havana and begin a limited amount of some immigrant visa services after years of operating with few personnel. The announcement was made during a press conference in Havana on Thursday by the U.S. Embassy’s top diplomat, Timothy Zuñiga-Brown. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/us-boosts-embassy-personnel-cuba-rcna18467) The U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, will continue being the primary location for processing visas. The Trump administration cut embassy staff in 2017 following unexplained health incidents known as the “Havana Syndrome” that affected personnel and their families. A very limited staff has been in place since then, impacting the embassy’s ability to process visas. Visa processing was transferred to Guyana. But for most Cubans, the cost of traveling to another country for visas is exorbitant. Cuba is among the top 10 countries with the highest number of people on the family sponsored immigration waiting list, with almost 91,000.

Newsline: Foreign embassies in China puzzle over Japanese diplomat’s detention

In the foreign embassies of Beijing, there is no doubt that China’s secret police wished to send a chilling message when they detained a Japanese diplomat for some hours on February 21st, trampling the legal principle of diplomatic immunity. (https://www.economist.com/china/2022/03/05/foreign-embassies-in-china-puzzle-over-a-diplomats-detention) Some details of the case are shockingly clear-cut. Japan’s diplomat was accosted after lunch with a Chinese citizen at a hotel restaurant in Beijing. The envoy was taken to a room at the hotel and surrounded by ten or so men. A diplomatic identity card was shown, and ignored by the captors, as were the diplomat’s demands to call the Japanese embassy. Identifying themselves as state-security officers, they proceeded with a two-hour interrogation about the lunch. Yet the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the treaty that protects diplomats, is unambiguous, stating: “The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.” Envoys debate whether the operation was an attack on Japan, overreach by aggressive spooks or a calculated warning to foreign missions that even routine meetings with Chinese contacts are out of bounds, as national-security rules tighten further.