Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 2, 2022

Newsline: U.S Special Envoy Says Yemen Truce Paves Way To End Conflict

A United Nations-led truce in Yemen is a “decisive moment” in the near seven-year conflict and offers hope the warring parties and international community can bring a lasting peace to the devastated country, a senior U.S. official told Reuters. U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said the U.N.- brokered two-month truce between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi group aligned with Iran, which comes into effect on Saturday, was a “first step” to a permanent ceasefire. “If the international community and parties can work together this could be built into a lasting ceasefire and inclusive political process that ultimately gives shape to a new Yemen,” Lenderking said in an interview in Amman. “We want to build on a decisive moment that helps Yemen turn the corner.” (https://www.ibtimes.com/us-special-envoy-says-yemen-truce-paves-way-end-conflict-3459183) Lenderking said the deal was a culmination of stepped up U.S. diplomacy and the Houthis’ realisation there could be no outright military victory. The coalition was able to prevent the fall of Yemen’s gas rich Marib region, where the Houthis last year advanced on most districts barring the main city and nearby hydrocarbon sites. The Houthis had responded by stepping up attacks on Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates. However, they have now put aside the “notion of military victory,” Lenderking said. The truce is an opportunity for Iran, which Washington says provides significant support for the Houthis, to show its goodwill in backing the U.N.-led drive for peace, he added. “We would like to see Iran move away from the negative tactics and role they have played up this point,” he said. The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Newsline: Moldova’s Foreign Ministry denies mobilization in Transdnistria

Moldova’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday there is “no information to confirm the mobilization of troops in the Transdnistrian region” and that “state institutions are closely monitoring the security situation in the region.” Authorities in the tiny breakaway region of Transdnistria in Moldova denied “absolutely untrue” claims Saturday by Ukraine that Russian troops based there are massing to conduct “provocations” along Ukraine’s border. “The information disseminated by the General Staff of Ukraine is absolutely untrue,” Transdnistria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that leaders have repeatedly “declared the absence of any threat to Ukraine.” Earlier Saturday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Russian troops already in Transdnistria were preparing for “a demonstration of readiness for the offensive and, possibly, hostilities against Ukraine.” (https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2022-04-02/live-updates-chinese-diplomat-suggests-moves-to-end-war) Transdnistria is a Russia-backed region of Moldova that broke away after a short civil war in the early 1990s, and is unrecognized by most countries. An estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed there.

Newsline: Pakistan advocates diplomacy to resolve issues with India

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that his country is ready to move forward on Kashmir if India agrees, Dawn reported. “Pakistan continues to believe in using dialogue and diplomacy to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute and is ready to move forward on this front if India also agrees to do so,” he said. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/bajwa-call-for-dialogue-to-resolve-issue-with-india/ar-AAVME7v) Gen Bajwa highlighted the importance of keeping conflict away from the region, he said Pakistan wanted the Sino-India border to be resolved soon through diplomacy and dialogue as well, Dawn reported. During his speech, Gen Bajwa termed India’s accidental launching of a supersonic cruise missile into Pakistan on March 9 a matter of “serious concern”, saying “we expect India to provide evidence to assure Pakistan and the world that their weapons are safe and secure”. “Unlike other incidents involving strategic weapons systems, this is the first time in history that a supersonic cruise missile from one nuclear-armed nation has landed in another,” he said. The incident had raised “serious concerns” about India’s ability to manage and operate high-end weapons systems, Gen Bajwa said, adding that the neighbouring country’s “indifferent attitude in not informing Pakistan immediately about the inadvertent launch” was equally concerning, Dawn reported.

Newsline: Italy’s top diplomat seeks increased energy supplies from Azerbaijan

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, visiting Azerbaijan, has described his talks there as laying the bases for even stronger cooperation on energy, as Italy seeks to quickly reduce its heavy reliance on Russian gas. In comments to reporters in Baku on Saturday, Di Maio described Azerbaijan, which is Italy’s largest supplier of oil and third-largest supplier of gas, as a “priority partner” in Italy’s quest to diversify its sources of energy. (https://wtop.com/russia-ukraine-war-news/2022/04/live-updates-chinese-diplomat-suggests-moves-to-end-war/) Di Maio arrived in the South Caucasus country on Friday, following previous energy-focused missions to Algeria, Qatar, Angola and Congo. Italy is eyeing the possibility of increasing the supply of natural gas from Azerbaijan through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, or TAP, which transported its first gas in 2020.

Newsline: Shuttle-diplomacy entails two-month truce in Yemen

After more than a year of shuttle-diplomacy around the Middle East, President Biden’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, said a U.N.-brokered, two-month truce has been agreed by warring parties in Yemen. “This is a positive moment for Yemen, and we’ve got to seize it,” Lenderking said Saturday in an interview with CBS News. (https://news.yahoo.com/warring-parties-yemen-agree-two-133200380.html) The deal, reached by the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, was expected to go into effect on Saturday, in time for the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The warring parties agreed to stop all military operations across Yemen, including cross-border attacks. Most parties involved were quick to welcome the truce. In a statement issued by the White House Friday, President Biden called it a “reprieve for the Yemeni people.” Less enthusiastic, however, were the Houthi rebels. Prominent Houthi official Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said on Twitter that its “credibility would be in implementation.” Lenderking was adamant that the Houthis will not be able to use the truce to rearm. He also said the U.S. hasn’t “been soft on any particular party.” Since 2015, the Houthi rebels have been engaged in a brutal conflict with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. The war has left an estimated 400,000 dead – many, according to the U.N., from “indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.” The conflict has made 73% of Yemen’s population of 30 million dependent on aid.

Newsline: Ex-Sri Lankan ambassador to US pleads guilty to defrauding government

A former Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States pleaded guilty on Friday to seeking to embezzle more than $330,000 during the purchase of a new embassy building in Washington. Jaliya Chitran Wickramasuriya, 61, entered a guilty plea in US District Court to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the Justice Department said. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/ex-sri-lankan-envoy-to-us-pleads-guilty-to-defrauding-government/ar-AAVLrVZ) Wickramasuriya, who served as Sri Lanka’s envoy to the United States and Mexico from 2008 to 2014, sought to defraud the Sri Lankan government by inflating the price during the purchase of a new embassy building in 2013, the department said in a statement. According to court documents, Wickramasuriya inflated the purchase price of the real estate by $332,027 and then had those funds diverted to two companies which had no role in the transaction. Wickramasuriya later had the funds redirected back to Sri Lankan government accounts. Sentencing was set for July 20. Wickramasuriya faces up to five years in prison and financial penalties.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat pledges to back Myanmar ‘no matter how the situation changes’

China says it will back neighbor Myanmar “no matter how the situation changes,” in the latest show of unequivocal Chinese support for the ruling military council that seized power last year. China “has always placed Myanmar in an important position in its neighborly diplomacy” and wants to “deepen exchanges and cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin on Friday, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. “No matter how the situation changes, China will support Myanmar in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Wang said. (https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/world/china-to-back-myanmar-no-matter-how-the-situation-changes/ar-AAVM1wx) Myanmar’s military, which ousted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, has continued to face resistance that now amounts to what some U.N. experts have characterized as a civil war. In return for Chinese diplomatic support and material assistance, Myanmar has been a loyal ally of Beijing within the nine-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.