Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for March 25, 2022

Newsline: Top diplomat says Israel to host ‘historic’ regional summit next week

Israel will host a “historic” five-way regional conference next week, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Friday, as talks to revive a nuclear deal with Iran remain in limbo. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco will arrive in Israel for a series of diplomatic meetings on Sunday and Monday, Lapid said in a statement. (https://news.yahoo.com/israel-host-historic-regional-summit-110753343.html) The UAE and Bahrain normalised ties with Israel in 2020 under a U.S.-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords, creating a new regional dynamic based on mutual concern over Iran. Morocco followed suit last year and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on military cooperation on Friday, the Israeli army’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said on Twitter.

Newsline: China’s foreign minister makes surprise stop in Afghanistan

China’s foreign minister made a surprise visit Thursday in Afghanistan’s capital, meeting with the country’s new Taliban rulers. According to the official Bakhtar News Agency, Wang Yi was to meet with Taliban leaders “to discuss various issues, including the extension of political relations, economic, and transit cooperation.” The Taliban, who seized power last August during the chaotic final weeks of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces after 20 years of war, have been seeking international recognition in order to open up Afghanistan’s economy, which has been in free fall since their takeover. Wang’s visit came as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, was also in Kabul. Kabulov also met with the Taliban-appointed foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Taliban spokesman Qahar Balkhi said. “The meeting focused on strengthening political, economic, transit and regional relations,” Balkhi tweeted. (https://news.yahoo.com/chinas-foreign-minister-makes-surprise-083311593.html) Both Beijing and Moscow have become significant regional players, outdistancing the United States. Russia and China, which have both criticized the hasty U.S. departure from Afghanistan, worry that their enemies could find a safe haven under the Taliban rule.

Newsline: France Summons Russian Envoy Over Embassy Twitter Cartoon That Mocked Europe

Russia’s ambassador to France was summoned on Friday to the French Foreign Ministry over an earlier embassy Twitter post that Paris deemed unacceptable, the foreign ministry said. The Russian Embassy in Paris on Thursday had posted a picture depicting a body lying on a table called “Europe” with characters representing the United States and European Union jabbing needles into it. “These posts are unacceptable. We made that clear today to the Russian Ambassador,” the ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters. “We are trying to maintain a demanding channel of dialogue with Russia and these actions are completely inappropriate.” (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-03-25/france-summons-russian-envoy-over-embassy-twitter-cartoon-that-mocked-europe) France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune had slammed the cartoon post on Thursday calling it “a disgrace” in response to the drawing which had been posted earlier in the afternoon by the Twitter account of the Russia Embassy in France. The picture has since been removed from the embassy’s feed.

Newsline: British embassy in Lebanon ‘deeply concerned’ at bank account closures

The British embassy in Beirut said on Friday it was “deeply concerned” by Lebanese banks closing accounts belonging to people who are nationals or residents of the United Kingdom. (https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/british-embassy-lebanon-deeply-concerned-bank-account-closures-2022-03-25/) In a statement, the embassy said “this unilateral action” by banks had singled out account holders on the basis of their British residency or nationality, in “what appears to be a targeted and discriminatory manner”.

Newsline: Irish foreign minister ‘saddened and frustrated’ by attempted attack

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he was “saddened and frustrated” by the hijacking of a van and its driver in Belfast on Friday in an apparent attempt to attack an event he was speaking at on the Northern Ireland peace process. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/irish-foreign-minister-saddened-frustrated-by-attempted-attack-2022-03-25/) “Saddened & frustrated that someone has been attacked & victimised in this way and my thoughts are with him & his family,” Coveney said in a Twitter post after police closed down the venue where he was due to appear.

Newsline: Russian ambassador sues Italian daily over Putin article

The Russian ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, said on Friday he was suing Italian newspaper La Stampa over an article that had raised the possibility of killing President Vladimir Putin. “Needless to say that this goes against the rules of journalism and morality,” Razov told reporters in front of the prosecutor’s office in Rome after he had deposited the suit. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-ambassador-sues-italian-daily-100417206.html) On March 22 La Stampa published an analysis headlined “If killing the tyrant is the only option”. The piece said if all other options failed to halt the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the only solution would be for someone to kill the president. Speaking through a translator, Razov said his suit accused the newspaper of soliciting and condoning a crime. La Stampa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: U.S. ambassador urges Mexico to side with Ukraine

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico urged Mexican lawmakers to join the United States in supporting Kyiv against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after his Russian counterpart encouraged Mexico to defy “Uncle Sam.” “The Russian ambassador was here yesterday making a lot of noise about how Mexico and Russia are so close. This, sorry, can never happen. It can never happen,” U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said in remarks at Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Thursday. “We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia,” he said. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/us-ambassador-urges-mexico-side-ukraine-rcna21497) Salazar’s comments came after Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, addressed lawmakers at a newly inaugurated “Mexico-Russia friendship committee” on Wednesday. “On the orders of Uncle Sam, Mexico will never answer ‘Yes, Sir’” Koronelli said, drawing applause from some legislators.

Newsline: U.S. diplomacy facing tests on Ukraine and Middle East

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Mideast and North Africa next week as the Biden administration strives to keep allies and partners united in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the State Department said. (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/blinken-mideast-ukraine-war-complicates-us-diplomacy-83648033) With U.S. diplomacy facing serious tests on Ukraine and a range of Middle East regional issues, the department said that Blinken will visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria starting this weekend. In Israel, Blinken plans to press Israeli officials on support for the Ukrainian government, seek their thoughts on potential mediation with Russia to end the conflict and update them on the status of the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna. The administration’s efforts to promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue will also be on the agenda. In Morocco and Algeria, Blinken will discuss the importance of the role that smaller states can play in backing Ukraine’s sovereignty, as well as the U.S. interest in Arab nations continuing to normalize and expand their relations with Israel. While in Rabat, Blinken will also meet with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, a longtime U.S. partner in the Gulf that recently attracted Washington’s ire by hosting a visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Newsline: Russia’s Top Diplomat Admits Kremlin Was Shocked By Scale Of Western Sanctions

Russia’s top diplomat said that the Kremlin was surprised that Western leaders imposed the level of economic sanctions currently hurting the country — a rare admission of weakness from President Vladimir Putin’s government amid the ongoing destruction in Ukraine. “When the reserves of the Central Bank were frozen, no one who was predicting what sanctions the West would pass could have pictured that,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, according to Kommersant. Lavrov also called the sanctions an act of “theft.” “The Russian Federation must be made to never again depend on supplies from abroad. … Russia has no right to allow dependence on the West in vital sectors of its economy,” Lavrov said, according to Russian state-owned news outlet TASS. The official added that the Kremlin would still be “ready to cooperate” with the West in the future “if they want.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russias-top-diplomat-admits-kremlin-194859423.html) Putin made the decision in February to invade Ukraine despite NATO and Western leaders holding repeated talks to avoid a war. A large number of nations, including the United States, slammed Russia with increasingly severe sanctions — sending the ruble plummeting and the Russian economy in shambles.