Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 9, 2022

Newsline: Diplomat says no Russian oil embargo at next EU meeting

European Union foreign ministers will not formally discuss an oil embargo on Russia at Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg, a senior EU diplomat involved in preparations said. (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/oil-embargo-not-under-formal-discussion-at-next-eu-meeting-senior-diplomat-says-963385) EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had earlier said that banning oil imports from Russia would be discussed when ministers meet for the scheduled gathering, after the bloc moved to ban coal in a fifth package of sanctions this week. But “It won’t be on the table on Monday,” the diplomat said. Lithuania as well as Ukraine itself are among the most vocal of EU member states in calling for a Russian oil embargo as the EU’s next step. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany and Hungary have so far resisted more discussion about banning Russian oil imports because of their dependency on the energy source. The EU diplomat said it was up to the European Commission, the EU executive, to decide when to come forward with a proposal.

Newsline: Italian embassy councillor robbed in Delhi

Two persons were arrested by the police for robbing a 54-year-old Italian embassy councillor in Delhi. An Italian embassy councillor, a resident of Noida, lodged a complaint about robbery at Lodhi Colony. The incident took place when the councillor was going home from her office in the Chanakyapuri area. As soon as she reached near Soochna Bhawan on Barapulla flyover in an auto-rickshaw, she noticed that three-four men were standing there. One of the men came near the auto-rickshaw and snatched her bag. The bag contained a mobile phone, Aadhar card, PAN card, service ID card, two debit cards, a pair of gold earrings and a gold ring. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/italian-embassy-councillor-robbed-at-delhi-s-lodhi-colony-two-arrested/ar-AAW2id3) During the investigation, it was revealed that Narender, 26, and Ashish Barwa, 28 had been arrested by the Hazrat Nizamuddin Police Station in a robbery case, the police said. The mobile phone looted from the complainant was recovered by the police from their possession.

Newsline: Diplomats returning to Kyiv to show support

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says the Austrian embassy staff will return to Kyiv from western Ukraine. The Austria Press Agency reported that Nehammer announced the move during a visit on Saturday to Kyiv, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Nehammer said that “since the situation around Kyiv has now stabilized somewhat, the Austrian embassy’s team will resume its work in the Ukrainian capital.” He said it’s a sign of Austria’s “full support for Ukraine at this very difficult time.” (https://www.wsoctv.com/news/live-updates/U4UXKDMYG2L375TVAI5YCP3H7M/) The team had been moved at the beginning of the war to an outpost in Uzhhorod, near the Slovak border in Ukraine’s far west. The European Union also has returned its ambassador to Kyiv and Italy also reportedly plans to reopen its embassy there.

Newsline: Top Iran, Iraq Diplomats to Meet

The top diplomats of neighboring Iran and Iraq have agreed to soon meet amid a series of regional developments including two back-to-back attacks against U.S. soldiers deployed to both sides of Iraq’s border with Syria. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein spoke via telephone, according to statements published by both sides Friday. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the two men discussed “issues of mutual interest, including bilateral ties, regional developments and the Vienna talks,” where Tehran has sought Washington’s return to a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by then-President Donald Trump in 2018. (https://www.newsweek.com/top-iran-iraq-diplomats-meet-after-back-back-attacks-us-troops-1696494) The Iraqi Foreign Ministry issued a similar readout referencing these topics as well as “ways to strengthen bilateral relations.” The Iraqi statement said that “the two sides stressed the need to meet as soon as possible to discuss developments in the region” and “the necessity of meeting in the coming days.”

Newsline: Ambassador to Beijing says Sri Lanka not caught in a China debt trap

Sri Lanka is not caught in a debt trap by China, according to its ambassador in Beijing, as the Indian Ocean island nation seeks help to overcome its most severe economic woes in decades, a situation leading to public unrest and a political crisis for the government. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sri-lanka-not-caught-china-093000710.html) Speaking with the South China Morning Post, envoy Palitha Kohona admitted his country was in a difficult situation and had asked for financial support to help it get through the spiralling economic crisis which had led the government to raise interest rates, devalue its currency and curb imports of non-essential goods. Authorities in Sri Lanka have asked for a US$1 billion loan from China to meet the existing repayments to China, and a further US$1.5 billion credit line to buy Chinese goods. Colombo is also expected to discuss a potential loan programme with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund “in the coming days”, according to Kohona.

Newsline: China’s envoy warns UN not to add ‘fuel to the fire’ after North Korean missile test

China’s envoy on North Korean issues Liu Xiaoming said the United Nations Security Council should not add “fuel to the fire,” indicating his reluctance to back US efforts to pursue a new sanctions resolution following its recent ballistic missile test. Liu, who recently visited the United States and met White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell, posted on Twitter that the Security Council should play a “constructive role for the political settlement” of issues related to the Korean peninsula. “Any action it takes should be conducive to de-escalation and dialogue, instead of adding fuel to the fire,” he added. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-warns-un-not-add-093000276.html) The United States has been calling on China and Russia, both permanent veto-wielding members of the council, to cooperate in imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea, which test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in March, the first such launch since 2017. But US special envoy to North Korea Sung Kim told reporters on Wednesday that he cannot yet say “productive discussions” are taking place with the two countries.

Newsline: US embassy warns of ‘arbitrary’ Covid measures in China

The United States on Saturday warned of “arbitrary” Covid-19 measures in China and said it would let some staff leave its Shanghai consulate amid a surge of infections in the locked-down megacity. The US State Department will now allow non-essential employees to leave its consulate in Shanghai “due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and the impact of restrictions related to the response”, a US embassy spokesperson said in a statement. The statement warned citizens to reconsider travelling to China, “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and Covid-19-related restrictions”, adding that the embassy in Beijing had raised its concerns over the measures with the Chinese government. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-warns-arbitrary-covid-measures-072207434.html) Until March, China had kept cases low with snap lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions, but more than 100,000 cases have been reported in Shanghai since March in a test of the country’s strict zero-Covid policy. The city’s roughly 25 million inhabitants were locked down in phases last week, prompting complaints of food shortages and viral videos of disgruntled residents scuffling with officials.