Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 21, 2022

Newsline: U.S. ambassador demanded Moscow follow international law

The U.S. State Department on Monday confirmed a meeting between U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan and the Russian government, during which Sullivan demanded that Moscow follow international law and allow consular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia. State department spokesperson Ned Price said it is “completely unacceptable” that the United States has been denied consular access to detained American citizens in Russia. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-ambassador-demanded-moscow-international-192245518.html) He said there has been no change to the case of WNBA All-Star player Brittney Griner, whom Russia said it had detained last month for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil. The U.S. has still not been allowed consular access to Griner, Price said. Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had summoned Sullivan to tell him that President Joe Biden’s calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” had pushed bilateral ties to the brink of collapse. “It is awfully rich to hear a country speak about ‘inappropriate comments’ when that same country is engaged in mass slaughter, including strikes and attacks that have resulted in civilian lives,” Price told reporters.

Newsline: 53 years after establishing diplomatic ties Singapore to set up embassy in Israel

More than 50 years after Singapore set up diplomatic relations with Israel, the city-state will establish an embassy in the Jewish state. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Monday (21 March), MFA said the embassy in Tel Aviv will “serve as a focal point and support Singapore companies seeking to expand their collaboration with potential Israeli partners”. (https://news.yahoo.com/singapore-set-up-embassy-israel-53-years-establishing-diplomatic-ties-151749182.html) The two countries set up diplomatic ties in 1969, a few years after they began a covert military partnership, with Israel playing a key role in helping to set up the fledgling Singapore defence force. Singapore’s interests in Israel are represented by an honorary Consulate-General in Tel Aviv while Lim Chuan Poh is Singapore’s non-resident ambassador-designate to Israel currently.

Newsline: Russia tells U.S. ambassador bilateral ties “on the verge of breaking”

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned John Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to Russia, and handed him a note over President Biden’s “unacceptable” comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that ties between the countries are “on the verge of breaking.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Biden’s comments were “unworthy of a statesman of such a high rank,” adding that any “hostile actions taken against Russia would receive a decisive and firm rebuff.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-tells-u-ambassador-bilateral-145408889.html) Russian officials were referring to Biden’s comments to reporters last week calling Putin a “war criminal” over Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Newsline: Top EU diplomat denounces Russia’s Mariupol assault

The European Union’s top diplomat is accusing Russia of “a massive war crime” in Moscow’s assault against the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. “This is a war crime, a massive war crime, what’s happening in Mariupol,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told reporters on Monday. “The city will be completely destroyed, and people will be – are dying.” (https://news.yahoo.com/top-eu-diplomat-accuses-russia-142016151.html) Mariupol has come under attack by Russian forces throughout Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which began late last month. On Monday, the Mariupol City Council claimed that Russia bombed an art school in the city where hundreds of refugees were sheltering. One day before that, the Mariupol City Council said thousands of residents had been forcibly taken to Russian territory. The offensive in Mariupol reached an apex on Sunday, when Russia called on Ukrainians to lay down their arms and end what it labeled a “terrible humanitarian catastrophe” in the city. Officials there, however, rejected the plea on Monday.

Newsline: China’s ambassador says Sri Lanka seeks $2.5 billion in loans

China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka said his country is considering up to $2.5 billion in fresh assistance to the South Asian nation, the latest efforts to firm up finances as it struggles with a worsening economic crisis. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-21/sri-lanka-seeking-1-5-billion-facility-chinese-ambassador-says) The development comes one week after Sri Lanka started talks with International Monetary Fund for a potential aid package as its foreign exchange reserves shrink and it struggles to import basic goods.

Newsline: Spain’s ‘U-turn’ on Western Sahara sends ambassadors in and out

Morocco on Sunday reinstated its ambassador to Spain, effectively ending a 10-month row between the two key Mediterranean neighbors after Madrid shifted its long-standing position on Western Sahara, its former colony in North Africa. Karima Benyaich, the Moroccan envoy to Spain, on Sunday told Spanish state news agency EFE that she had returned to Madrid the day before, shortly after the Spanish government backed Rabat’s plan to give more autonomy to Western Sahara as long as the territory remains under its grip. (https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Algeria-recalls-Spanish-ambassador-over-Western-17014758.php) But the move opened a new diplomatic front for Spain with Algeria — its other North Africa neighbor, a crucial natural gas supplier and Morocco’s regional foe — which recalled its own ambassador to Madrid in protest for Spain’s “U-turn.” Western Sahara, a vast territory largely barren but rich in phosphates and facing fertile fishing grounds in the Atlantic Ocean, is disputed between Morocco, which annexed it in 1976, and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement.

Newsline: Ambassador Says China Will Work to De-Escalate War in Ukraine

China’s top envoy to Washington pledged his country “will do everything” to de-escalate the war in Ukraine and said its relationship with Russia is “not part of the problem.” “There’s disinformation about China providing military assistance to Russia,” Qin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. China isn’t sending “weapons and ammunitions to any party,” he said. “We will do everything to disescalate the crisis.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-20/china-will-work-to-de-escalate-war-in-ukraine-ambassador-says) Ambassador Qin Gang’s comments follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning to Chinese President Xi Jinping of “implications and consequences” should China support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi assured Biden that his country didn’t want the war, according to Chinese readouts of the video call on Friday. It’s the latest evidence of China’s efforts to balance its relationships with the U.S. and Russia as the Biden administration seeks to step up international pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine. While China has “a lot of common interests” with Russia, that “is not a liability,” Qin said. “China is part of the solution, it’s not part of the problem.” He cited Xi’s phone call with Putin shortly after the Russian invasion in February during which China said its leader urged Putin to negotiate with Ukraine.

Newsline: Vietnamese embassy in Germany works hard to support evacuees from Ukraine

The Vietnamese Embassy and many associations and individuals in Germany are promptly providing support to Vietnamese people who evacuated from war zones in Ukraine to Germany after the country and other member states of the European Union (EU) decided to receive and grant evacuees from Ukraine temporary protection. (https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/565990839/vietnamese-embassy-in-germany-works-hard-to-support-vietnamese-evacuee-from-ukraine) The embassy sent officials to the main station in Berlin to check the situation and talk directly with evacuees, who said they needed to find temporary accommodation and be guided through procedures to enter refugee camps. Evacuees also wanted to be provided with information about German regulations and procedures for refugees from Ukraine, and soon have passports and necessary documents for their temporary residence in Germany. A rapid response team of the embassy has been set up in order to develop a timely plan for handling arising problems, and at the same time coordinate with the Vietnamese Consulate General in Frankfurt in related matters. A hotline of the embassy has been also active to promptly guide and support Vietnamese evacuees.