Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 29, 2022

Newsline: Ukrainian embassy in Delhi calls for Nepal to ban Russian climbers from Himalayas

Nine Russians have been given permits to climb peaks in Nepal this spring, despite calls from Ukrainian diplomats and mountaineers for them to be banned after President Putin sent troops into Ukraine. A diplomatic note from the Ukrainian embassy in Delhi to Nepal’s government says numerous international sports federations have barred Russian athletes. “Taking into consideration the above, the esteemed Nepalese side is kindly requested to ban Russian mountaineering teams until the end of [the] Russian invasion into Ukraine,” the letter reads. But officials in Nepal say they are continuing to issue permits to anyone abiding by the government’s rules and regulations. “There has been no change in our policy so far,” the director general of Nepal’s tourism department, Taranath Adhikari, told the BBC. “We believe our mountains are global assets and any countries’ citizens willing to visit them for attainment of peace should be allowed to do so – as long as they do it within our legal provisions.” (https://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-calls-nepal-ban-russian-112744002.html) The Ukrainian embassy in Delhi says it made its request to the Nepalese embassy in the Indian capital on 21 March, but Nepalese embassy officials told the BBC they had received no communication on the issue.

Newsline: Top US diplomat in Morocco for security talks, to meet UAE leader

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Morocco on Tuesday to discuss North African security issues and meet the United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. A major focus of the trip is the month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow which have colluded to drive up global energy and food prices, spelling a threat for major grain importers. “We know this pain is keenly felt in the Middle East and North Africa, where most countries import at least half of their wheat,” State Department Acting Assistant Secretary Yael Lempert said before the trip. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/blinken-in-morocco-for-security-talks-to-meet-uae-leader/ar-AAVCfty) Blinken flew in late Monday from Israel where he had joined a gathering of top diplomats from the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt that underlined the sea change in relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state. US officials said talks in Morocco, and in Algeria on Wednesday, would also deal with the Western Sahara dispute, development issues and security cooperation, including on fighting the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda in the Sahel.

Newsline: Czech Republic expels Russian diplomat

The Czech Republic gave one Russian diplomat 72 hours to leave the country. “Together with our allies, we are reducing the Russian intelligence presence in the EU,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said. (https://news.yahoo.com/europeans-expel-dozens-russian-envoys-145623640.html) Poland last week expelled 45 Russians whom the government identified as intelligence officers using their diplomatic status as cover to operate in the country.

Newsline: Ireland asks four senior Russian Embassy officials to leave

Ireland has asked four senior officials at the Russian Embassy to leave the country, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “The Department of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian Ambassador to Iveagh House to advise him that four senior officials have been asked to leave the State,” the statement said. (https://news.yahoo.com/ireland-asks-four-senior-russian-143201529.html) “This is because their activities have not been in accordance with international standards of diplomatic behaviour.”

Newsline: Netherlands expels 17 Russian diplomats

The Dutch government says it is expelling 17 Russian intelligence officers, calling their presence a “threat to national security.” The foreign ministry said that the Russian ambassador was summoned Tuesday and told the officers, who were accredited as diplomats, are to be removed from the country. The ministry says it took the decision on national security grounds. It says that the “intelligence threat against the Netherlands remains high. The current attitude of Russia in a broader sense makes the presence of these intelligence officers undesirable.” (https://www.denverpost.com/2022/03/29/live-updates-belgium-orders-21-russian-diplomats-to-leave/) The government said it took the decision in consultation with “a number of like-minded countries,” citing similar expulsions by the United States, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Montenegro.

Newsline: Belgium expels 21 Russian diplomats

Belgium has expelled 21 Russian diplomats for alleged spying and posing threats to security, the foreign affairs ministry told Reuters on Tuesday after a Belga news agency report that did not give sources. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/belgium-expels-21-russian-diplomats-135159035.html) The 21 Russians worked at Moscow’s embassy in Brussels and consulate in Antwerp. They were all accredited as diplomats but were working on spying and influencing operations, a ministry spokesperson said.

Newsline: Top diplomats from Egypt, Qatar discuss ties in Cairo

Egypt’s foreign minister held talks with his Qatari counterpart Monday that focused on improved ties between the two countries. Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Cairo. It was the second visit for Qatar’s chief diplomat since Egypt and three Gulf nations ended their dispute with the energy-rich country last year. Al Thani told a joint news conference that Qatar’s ties with Egypt were improving “after we overcame the previous period, which was marred by some tensions.” (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/top-diplomats-egypt-qatar-discuss-ties-cairo-83724962) A declaration in January 2021 ended a diplomatic crisis that began in 2017 with a rift between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on the other. The four countries had jointly boycotted Qatar and hoped an embargo and media blitz would pressure it to end its close relations with Turkey and Iran. Since the dispute ended, ties between the five countries have improved and top officials exchange visits. Al Thani visited Cairo in May and met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

Newsline: Russia to Expel Diplomats of Baltic Nations in Tit-For-Tat Response

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called in the ambassadors of the three Baltic nations on Tuesday to announce the expulsion of some of their diplomats in a tit-for-tat response, the TASS and RIA news agencies cited a source as saying. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-03-29/russia-to-expel-diplomats-of-baltic-nations-in-tit-for-tat-response-tass) Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania expelled a total of 10 Russian diplomats in a coordinated move earlier this month.

Newsline: UN eyes diplomatic initiative for Ukraine ceasefire

The UN chief said on Monday that he has asked Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths “immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine”. Griffiths, who oversees the UN’s humanitarian and emergency initiatives, “will immediately start” his diplomacy and has already made some contacts, Guterres told reporters. “I hope that he will be able to go to both Moscow and Kiev as soon as that becomes possible. It’s very important to establish a serious dialogue with both parties in relation to the possibility of this humanitarian ceasefire.” He said that he was taking the initiative “in the exercise of my good offices” — a function that has accrued to the Secretary-General in maintaining peace. (https://in.investing.com/news/announcing-initiative-for-ukraine-ceasefire-guterres-says-hes-in-touch-with-india-3139904) About the various diplomatic efforts, he said: “I’ve been in close contact with several countries that have been talking to the parties at the highest level in order to explore the different forms of mediation leading to a political solution.

Newsline: Slovenia reopens embassy in Ukraine

Slovenia has reopened its embassy in Kiev, after it evacuated all its diplomats from Ukraine on February 26 two days after Russia launched its full scale invasion. The Embassy was reopened on Monday by temporary charge d’affaires Bostjan Lesjak, while Slovenian Ambassador to Ukraine Tomaz Mencin continues to work from the Polish city of Rzeszow which lies close to the Ukrainian border, the Foreign Ministry in Ljubljana said in a statement. “Upon arriving in Kiev, Lesjak said that he can hear alarms and detonations in the distance but that the life of the people who remained in Kiev continues as normal,” Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying. (https://in.investing.com/news/slovenia-reopens-embassy-in-ukraine-3140095) Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa visited Kiev on March 15, along with his Polish and Czech counterparts, during which they met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to express their support.