Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 26, 2022

Newsline: Foreign minister says Russian oligarchs welcome in Turkey

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey but must abide by international law in order to do any business, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday. “If Russian oligarchs … or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey of course they can,” Cavusoglu said in response to a question at the Doha Forum international conference. (https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/russian-oligarchs-welcome-turkey-foreign-minister-says-2022-03-26/) Turkey has strongly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but opposes sanctions imposed by its NATO allies on principle.

Newsline: Iran diplomat suggests flexibility to restore nuclear deal

Iran’s top diplomat said Saturday that the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard accepted the idea of continuing to be sanctioned by the U.S. if it meant the restoration of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s remark in a state television interview may signal a possible opening over the stalemated Vienna talks. It also appeared timed for a visit Sunday by a European Union diplomat involved in the negotiations. Sanctions on the Guard have been one of the remaining sticking points over restoring the tattered nuclear deal, outside of Russia’s demand at the 11th hour of guarantees over its trade relationship with Iran amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine. The Guard represents one of the major power bases in the Shiite theocracy and is answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the interview, Amirabdollahian acknowledged that the Guard sanctions were a topic discussed. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/iran-diplomat-suggests-flexibility-restore-nuclear-deal-83690255) The remark Saturday represents the first time he or any other Iranian official suggested it could be traded away in the negotiations. It came as Spanish diplomat Enrique Mora, who has been the EU’s lead negotiator in the talks, was traveling to Iran for meetings Sunday.

Newsline: Diplomat says NATO would take action if Russia uses WMD

NATO Deputy-General Secretary Mircea Geoana said in an interview with The Associated Press that the group would respond if Russia used chemical or nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine. “NATO is a defensive alliance, but also it’s a nuclear alliance,” said Geoana, who is also the former Romanian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States. “If they will be using chemical weapons or other kinds of higher-end systems against Ukraine, this will be changing fundamentally the nature of the war that Mr. Putin has waged against Ukraine. “I can guarantee that NATO is ready to respond proportionately,” Geoana added. (https://news.yahoo.com/nato-official-says-alliance-forced-170509015.html) Geoana would not detail to the AP what those actions could be, but his comments come as Russian officials have refused to say that Russia won’t use chemical or nuclear weapons in its invasion. NATO countries have been providing humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, but have refrained from implementing a no-fly zone or giving fighter jets as the alliance sees those as moves that gets the countries too directly involved in the fighting.

Newsline: Japan PM, US ambassador pray in Hiroshima amid Russia nuke fears

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida escorted the U.S. ambassador to his hometown Hiroshima on Saturday to pay respects to atomic bombing victims and warned that the world is again facing threats of nuclear attacks stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “As we face a possibility of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons as a realistic concern, I felt strongly (as leader of ) the world’s only country to have suffered atomic attacks that we should never allow threats or use of nuclear weapons,” Kishida told reporters after a tour of the peace park and the museum with Ambassador Rahm Emanuel. “The tragedy should never be repeated,” Kishida said. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/japan-pm-us-envoy-pray-in-hiroshima-amid-russia-nuke-fears/ar-AAVwwFE) Leaders from the Group of Seven countries on Thursday urged Russia not to use biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in its war on Ukraine. That prospects was raised when Russian President Vladimir Putin in February ordered his nation’s nuclear forces put on high alert over tensions with the West.

Newsline: Top EU diplomat says nuclear agreement with Iran ‘very close’

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said on Saturday Iran and world powers were “very close” to agreement on reviving their 2015 nuclear deal, which would curb Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting tough sanctions. (https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/eus-borrell-says-nuclear-agreement-with-iran-very-close-2022-03-26/) Then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the pact in 2018, prompting Tehran to start violating its nuclear limits about a year later, and 11 months of on-and-off talks to revive it paused in Vienna earlier this month after Russia presented a new obstacle.

Newsline: EU envoy in Tehran to help finalise stalled nuclear deal talks

The European Union’s coordinator is in Iran in an effort to help Tehran and Washington finalise stalled negotiations on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, from which former United States President Donald Trump pulled out unilaterally in 2018. Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service and coordinator for nuclear talks, arrived in the Iranian capital on Saturday afternoon and is reportedly expected to visit Washington shortly after. “We must conclude this negotiation. Much is at stake,” Mora tweeted prior to his trip, during which he will meet with Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/26/eu-envoy-in-tehran-to-help-finalise-stalled-nuclear-deal-talks) The visit comes more than two weeks after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for a pause in the talks in Vienna that began in April 2021 due to “external factors”. The pause was initially aimed at dealing with the issue of a last-minute Russian demand that sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine would not affect its dealings with Iran. The issue was resolved within days as Russia said it had received written guarantees from Washington.

Newsline: U.S. to increase pressure on Iran if nuclear diplomacy fails

The United States is still pursuing talks on Iran’s nuclear program but will work with allies to increase pressure on Iran if diplomacy fails, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday. The talks were close to an agreement until Russia made last-minute demands of the United States, insisting that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Iran. Substantial progress has been made in resolving a number of issues necessary for Washington to come back to the deal “on a compliance-for-compliance basis,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Poland with President Joe Biden. “There still are issues left. There still is work to be done,” he added. “We are still seeking a diplomatic outcome here that puts Iran’s nuclear program back in a box. Of course, if diplomacy doesn’t succeed, then we will work very closely with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran.” (https://news.yahoo.com/u-increase-pressure-iran-nuclear-155608799.html) Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Thursday that the vital issue of sanctions relief for Iran was not yet fully resolved.

Newsline: French ambassador discusses Mariupol civilian evacuations

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol said on Saturday he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after French President Emmanuel Macron said he would propose to Russia a plan to help people leave. (https://news.yahoo.com/mariupol-mayor-says-discussed-civilian-091158495.html) Speaking on national television, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the encircled city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.