Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 17, 2022

Newsline: Ukrainian top diplomat outlines ‘red line’ in talks

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there had not been any recent diplomatic communications between Russia and Ukraine at the level of their foreign ministries and that the situation in the port of Mariupol, which he described as “dire”, may be a “red line” in the path of negotiations. “Mariupol may be a red line”, he told CBS News in an interview on Sunday. Ukrainian soldiers resisted a Russian ultimatum to lay down arms on Sunday in the pulverized port of Mariupol, which Moscow said its forces had almost completely seized in what would be its biggest prize of the nearly two-month war. “We didn’t really have any contacts with Russian diplomats in recent weeks at the level of foreign ministries”, Kuleba said in the interview. “The only level of contact is the negotiating team that consists of the representatives of various institutions and members of parliament. They continue their consultations at the expert level but no high level talks are taking place,” he added. When asked about prospects of U.S. President Joe Biden visiting Ukraine, the foreign minister said Ukraine would be happy to welcome him and that a visit from him will send “an message of support.” (https://news.yahoo.com/ukrainian-foreign-minister-says-situation-150144021.html) The White House, however, said earlier this week there were no plans for Biden to visit the country that Russia invaded in late February. “We are not sending the president to Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Friday.

Newsline: The United Nations seen outliving its usefulness

The world keeps the current UN security system at great cost – both in money and human suffering. Beyond the UN’s massive operating budget of some $50 billion – of which the US, the largest contributor, pays 22% or about $10 billion – there is also a “Peacekeeping” budget of $6.37 billion, of which the US pays about $1.65 billion. This funds the current 12 UN peacekeeping operations around the world, many of which have been ongoing for decades but few of which – if any – offer much hope for success in the foreseeable future. Ukrainian President Zelensky’s fiery April 5 speech to the United Nations Security Council may be the best “the emperor has no clothes!” characterization of the UN’s total impotence in resolving global crises. “So where is the security that the Security Council must guarantee? There is no security,” he said. Zelensky’s volcanic frustration is understandable: his country has been attacked without provocation by a permanent member of the Security Council – the very organ created to assure global security. Zelensky goes on to state the obvious: “I would like to remind you of the first article of the first chapter of the UN Charter. What is the purpose of our organization? To maintain peace. Now, the UN Charter is being violated literally from the first article. The UN system must be reformed immediately so that the right of veto is not a right to kill.” But failing that, as the Ukrainian president so well concludes: “If your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether.” (https://news.yahoo.com/nagy-united-nations-outlived-usefulness-134002051.html) The paralysis of UN security system in the face of global crises indicates the urgent need for serious reforms.

Newsline: Turkey condemns Israeli action against Palestinians, re-appointment of ambassadors due in May

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he had told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas that he condemned Israeli “intervention on worshippers” at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque and threats to its “status or spirit”. Erdogan’s comments come amid efforts by Turkey and Israel in recent weeks to normalise their long-strained ties, as part of a regional charm offensive launched by Ankara in 2020. Meanwhile, the re-appointment of ambassadors by Turkey and Israel is expected in May. On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict. “During our call, I told Mr Abbas that I strongly condemned Israel’s intervention on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and that we will stand against provocations and threats to its status or spirit,” Erdogan said on Twitter. “Turkey always stands with Palestine,” he added. Erdogan later said he had discussed developments at Al-Aqsa with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding he Israel’s “interventions and provocations” had “unacceptable” results. They also discussed possible joint steps for regional peace, Erdogan added. (https://news.yahoo.com/turkeys-erdogan-says-condemns-israeli-160251559.html) Turkey has in the past launched various initiatives within the United Nations and Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against Israeli actions towards Palestinians and its policies regarding Jerusalem or its status. Regional rivals Turkey and Israel expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support of the Hamas militant group, which runs Gaza, and other issues. Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he would visit Israel and Palestine in mid-May and discuss the re-appointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart during the visit.

Newsline: Chinese diplomats urge Americans to build trust

US leaders and lawmakers should focus on improving China-US relations and building trust rather than listening to “narrow-minded” Americans keen to blame outsiders, senior Chinese diplomats said Saturday. Speaking at the Harvard College China Forum, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang and New York Consul General Huang Ping said improved ties between the US and China transformed the world over the past half-century, adding that whether the countries choose destructive competition or beneficial cooperation will transform the next 50 years. “China-US cooperation is indispensable, and yet we’re faced with dark clouds that involve misreading and misjudging,” said Qin, citing the danger of a “new Cold War”. “What does the future hold for the bilateral relationship and how do we find a new way to get along? These are questions that will garner the attention of the world.” (https://news.yahoo.com/chinese-diplomats-urge-harvard-audience-093000599.html) Following up a few minutes later, Huang called on the US to avoid stoking irritants. Citing the virtual meeting in November between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping, he called on the US to live up to its word by not supporting Taiwan independence, not using its alliances against China and not taking steps that lead to conflict.

Newsline: Japan and South Korea eye diplomatic thaw

Japanese and South Korean officials held their breath as South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol met Japanese Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi at his transition committee’s office in Seoul. They breathed a collective sigh of relief when the talks went smoothly. The atmosphere was “congenial,” said one diplomat involved in the meeting. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Comment/Will-Japan-rebuff-overture-from-South-Korea-s-new-leader) The meeting served to raise hopes of diplomatic thaw between Japan and South Korea.

Newsline: Pakistan’s foreign office says cross-border attacks from Afghanistan have increased

Pakistan’s foreign office said on Sunday said incidents of its security forces being targeted in cross-border attacks from Afghanistan had risen significantly, and called on Taliban authorities to act against militants, a day after purported air strikes by Pakistan. “In the last few days, incidents along Pak-Afghan border have significantly increased, wherein, Pakistani security forces are being targeted from across the border,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement on Sunday. It added the attacks were being carried out “with impunity” and that Islamabad had repeatedly asked Afghan authorities to act to stop them, but to no avail. (https://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-says-cross-border-attacks-081356119.html) The incident has increased already simmering tensions between the neighbours. Taliban authorities on Saturday summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul on Saturday to protest against the strikes. A local Taliban official and residents said the strikes were carried out by Pakistani aircraft inside Afghan airspace.

Newsline: China advances diplomatic agenda with greater confidence

Over the past decade, China has carried out foreign policies that pursue innovation, shared benefits, and common prosperity. (https://www.kktv.com/prnewswire/2022/04/13/diplomacy-talk-china-advances-diplomatic-agenda-with-greater-confidence/) China’s increasing national strength has enabled its people to see themselves as equals of any other nation, and the country strives to meet its responsibilities as a major nation.